- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 5, 2018

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Arts and crafts chain Hobby Lobby has completed its $8 million purchase of a bankrupt Catholic university’s campus near Oklahoma City, which it has agreed to lease out to another Christian college.

Documents filed in federal bankruptcy court Tuesday in Oklahoma City finalized the sale of the more than 70-acre St. Gregory’s University campus, buildings and other property in Shawnee to Hobby Lobby Stores Inc., which made the offer in September.

Nearly $4.8 million will be paid to Catholic Order of Foresters, an insurance company, the Citizens Potawatomie Community Development Corporation and the Citizens Potawatomie Nation to settle claims against the university. The remaining money will be divided among other debtors.

St. Gregory’s, which was the only Catholic university in Oklahoma, was established in 1875 and closed last year due to financial problems after it failed to secure a $12.5 million U.S. Department of Agriculture loan.

Hobby Lobby has agreed to lease the campus to Oklahoma Baptist University, a private Christian college in Shawnee that plans to use classrooms and labs in one building for science classes and a performing arts center for its theater, instrumental and choral programs.

OBU spokeswoman Paula Gower said the length and terms of the lease are not being released, but described the payments as nominal.

“This lease agreement provides the opportunity to use spaces available on the former SGU campus while Hobby Lobby determines their long-term plans for the property,” Gower said.

Officials from Hobby Lobby did not immediately respond to Wednesday requests for comment.

St. Gregory’s administration building, known as “the castle,” was heavily damage by an earthquake in 2011 that toppled one of its four turrets and resulted in all four turrets being replaced.

Hobby Lobby is based in Oklahoma City and is owned by the evangelical Christian Green family, which financed the Museum of the Bible in Washington and successfully sued the Obama administration to not have to cover the morning-after pill in employee health insurance plans.


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