After months of protest by Santa Ana arts crusaders, Irvine-based Newsong Church is terminating escrow and no longer pursuing the purchase of the Santora Arts Building.
“After extensive due diligence efforts, we were not able to come to terms with the seller of the Santora Arts Building regarding certain issues that we believe should be his responsibility to correct,” the church said in a statement. That seller would be real-estate developer Mike Harrah.
While not necessarily correlated, the announcement comes after artist tenants of the historic structure in downtown Santa Ana's Artists Village fervently proclaimed that a religious group would not be a good fit as the owner of a center that celebrates the freedom of expression and all types of individuals, gays and drunks included. A group called the United Artists of Santa Ana (UASA) led a “Save The Santora” campaign that included meetings, rallies, fundraisers and petitions aimed at stopping the sale to Newsong Church.
After it was announced that Newsong would be withdrawing from the purchase, UASA made this statement on its Facebook page:
While we felt that the sale of the building to a religious group would not be a good fit for the Santora, we respect NewSong's leadership for understanding the validity of our concerns and working with UASA and the City to forge a meaningful agreement that would protect the nature of the Santora and the Artists Village.UASA will continue to partner with the City and other business and civic leaders to form a Santora Steering Committee that will seek an arts-friendly investor who will secure the historic building's future as an anchor for arts-based revitalization in the heart of Santa Ana.
Newsong said although it is not purchasing the building, it will “continue to love downtown Santa Ana in a myriad of ways and are open to new opportunities there.”