Movin' on Up

Last month, the Weeklyrevealed that the Diocese of Orange is aggressively moving forward on plans to build a multimillion-dollar cathedral—despite facing about 100 sex-abuse lawsuits [see “Christ Our Non-Saver,” July 23]. Now sources say the diocese is negotiating with Brea-based Shea Homes for a new multimillion-dollar home near the proposed cathedral site.

The home's first occupant: Bishop Tod D. Brown.

The residence is one of 156 homes under construction at the Armstrong Ranch, a gated community in Santa Ana's South Coast Metro, near the 90-acre property where Christ Our Savior Cathedral will stand. Brochures for Armstrong Ranch show that the humblest housing option—what Shea Homes refers to as its “Flotman Residence”—includes two stories, four bedrooms, three and a half baths, a breakfast nook, an office, a butler's pantry, and a three-car garage. Starting price: $1.1 million.

Armstrong Ranch sales representatives aren't shy about the connection. One bragged to a Weekly researcher that the bishop is already in escrow.

This isn't the first time Brown has spent church funds to upgrade his pad. His current 3,800-square-foot manse in eastern Santa Ana includes 11 rooms, three bathrooms, a three-car garage and a solar-heated swimming pool. Officials purchased the property for $388,000 shortly before Brown ascended to the Orange bishopric in the fall of 1998. County documents show that subsequent improvements added $117,271 in value to the property, improvements that included interior remodeling; the conversion of part of the three-car garage into a laundry, bath and pantry; and a lattice-covered patio. But the crown to Brown's house was the addition of a second floor in early 2001—the year Orange County Superior Court Judge Jim Gray ordered the diocese to pay DiMaria $5.2 million for Monsignor Michael Harris' alleged molestation.


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