July 30, 2015 / 11:14 PM / in 2 years

Judge gives Katy Perry chance to live at disputed ex-convent in Los Angeles

Singer Katy Perry poses at the premiere screening of "Katy Perry: The Prismatic World Tour" in Los Angeles, California March 26, 2015.Mario Anzuoni

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Katy Perry, who grew up the daughter of Protestant Christian pastors and shot to fame with the song "I Kissed a Girl," may get her chance to live in a former convent in Los Angeles.

Perry has sought to buy the property from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, but nuns who once lived there objected and tried through their institute, Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to sell it to a restaurateur.

Both proposed sales have become embroiled in a court fight.

In a lawsuit filed in June, the archdiocese acknowledged the nuns' institute holds the title to the majestic 8-acre (3-hectare) property built like a Roman villa, but said the archdiocese has power over the ex-convent's sale.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James Chalfant rejected on Thursday the attempt by the nuns to sell the property to the restaurateur, Dana Hollister, in a proposed $15.5 million deal. He said the archdiocese has a right to dispose of the property for the benefit of the nuns.

Chalfant stopped short of saying the archdiocese can sell it to Perry for the $14.5 million she offered.

He allowed Hollister, who has an agent at the property, to temporarily retain it as long as she pays monthly rent of $25,000. In a twist, an archdiocese attorney told the judge that Perry would like to submit a competing bid to rent the property.

"We'll have a battle of potential lessees of this property for the benefit of the sisters," Chalfant said.

The judge, expressing concern the property is maintained and the nuns' needs are met, set a Sept. 15 hearing for attorneys to present arguments on who should rent it.

Perry, a former Christian singer, wants to buy the former convent to live there, her attorney Michael Starler told reporters. The pop star's hit songs include "I Kissed a Girl" and "Firework."

Dozens of nuns once lived at the convent, and the five still alive hope to share net proceeds of a sale, said their attorney Bernie Resser.

"Obviously, Catholic nuns are not particularly enamored of the image that Katy Perry puts out," he said outside the court.

Chalfant said another judge will have to rule on whether archdiocese officials followed formalities in changing bylaws of the nuns' institute to arrange a sale, and the lawsuit could last two years.

"They're not selling to Perry anytime soon," he said.

Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Dan Whitcomb

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