Author Topic: City Hall Takes On Scientology  (Read 2763 times)

Offline mefree

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City Hall Takes On Scientology
« on: November 29, 2013, 10:15 »
Atlanta's Idle Org is not the only building falling into disrepair.

Guiding blight - The Daily News (
BY JASON NARK, Daily News Staff Writer
Posted: November 27, 2013
ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER L&I plans to take the Church of Scientology to court over a boarded-up window at their planned headquarters in the former Cunningham Piano building on Chestnut Street.

THE CHURCH OF Scientology spent tens of millions of dollars, maybe more, on its massive, new spiritual headquarters in Florida, and all Philly got in the last six years was a piece of plywood with splotches of brown paint on it.

Earlier this month, church leader David Miscavige - who grew up in Burlington and Delaware counties - was joined by Scientology stars Tom Cruise and John Travolta in downtown Clearwater to cut the ribbon on the 377,000-square-foot "Flag Building."

Meanwhile, Philadelphia's Department of Licenses & Inspections intends to take the church to Blight Court over the tall, vacant building across from Macy's near 13th and Chestnut streets that has sat empty for more than six years. The church purchased the 15-story former Cunningham Piano building in 2007 for $7.85 million and laid out detailed plans for the "Philadelphia Freedom Org" on, including a chapel, a bookstore and even an office for Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, who died in 1986.

"At fifteen stories in height, The Freedom Org is the Church's first 'skyscraper,' a shining example of the religion that can and does secure Total Freedom for all," the website proclaims.

No work had been done there when the Daily News contacted the church in 2011 for a profile on Miscavige, although spokeswoman Karin Pouw said that interior designs were finished and construction documents were being completed. Miscavige, who still roots for Philly sports teams, would attend a ribbon-cutting if his schedule permitted, Pouw added.

"We hope to commence renovations toward the end of 2012 for a spring 2013 opening," Pouw wrote in an email Dec. 13, 2011.

On Monday, the building looked much the same as it did two years ago, except for the plywood that covered a large street-level window. A battered, metal call box sat open by the door with wires dangling out. Inside the dark foyer, cardboard boxes were crumpled atop one another.

"I don't understand what's going on there," said Paul Levy, president of the Center City District. "It's obviously a free country, and they bought the building, but here we are six years later, and they've done nothing. It's not only not contributing to the street and acting to the detriment to the city, it's also not a tax revenue."....

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