Irvine church pulls offer to buy building in Santa Ana’s art village


An Irvine church has rescinded its offer to purchase the Santora building in downtown Santa Ana, an architecturally ornate structure that for years has served as the center of the city’s artistic community.

Tom Greer, the chief financial officer for Newsong, said that the church could not come to an agreement with seller Mike Harrah and decided to pull out of escrow. He declined to discuss specifics.

Greer said if another property becomes available in Santa Ana, the church would be open to purchasing it. “Its been a very positive experience for us,” he said.


The church’s offer to buy the 1920s-era building had been met with resistance by artists, some of whom have galleries and studios in the structure.

Alicia Rojas, the president of the United Artists of Santa Ana, said she was informed late Monday that the church was no longer pursuing the sale.

Rojas and other artists in the area were concerned that, in the hands of a church, the artistic vibe of the Santora -- and perhaps the city’s entire Artists’ Village -- could erode.

Rojas said she is grateful that the church was willing to work with the artists, but said now, she’d like to form a committee to find a new investor.

“Maybe we can dream big and find someone who will work with us in some sort of partnership co-op,” she said. She now hopes that Harrah, the building’s owner, will work with the group.

“He’s let us be very free in the building,” she said. “I think somehow, Harrah has a soft spot for the arts.”

This story was reported by Times Staff Writer Nicole Santa Cruz.