City Hall Takes On Scientology

Over blight, of all things.

The Daily News reports that City Hall is preparing to fight the Church of Scientology … over blight.

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 philadelphiaideal.org, including a chapel, a bookstore and even an office for Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, who died in 1986.

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.”

Guess it’ll be awhile before we get Tom Cruise at a ribbon-cutting, huh?

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