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, 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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    This isn’t uncommon across the Scientology crumbling empire. Chicago has the same situation as Philly with their “ideal org”. While Scientology membership is hitting new lows with members leaving in droves since at least 2000 the mismanagement of David Miscavige has attempted to claim growth via the purchase of real estate. In some cases, often where there is the most media attention or a celebrity is concerned the buildings are renovated, in many cases they have not been and have become blight. There is even a blog documenting the state of “ideal orgs” worldwide…

  • BosonStark

    Fine the crap out of them — it’s a nutty cult with over a billion dollars of cash. Get some of it before their dictator, David Miscavige, runs off to Brazil with it.

    Another problem is, the cult can make a fortune squeezing local Scientology nutters out of cash to pay for the renovations, but it can take a decade or more.

    • long gone

      It is a vicious cycle. The members mortgage their homes so they can donate to the purchase and renovation of these idle orgs but this reallyy just spreads the blight in the end. the orgs don’t improve and the member’s home deteriorates and is many times taken by the lenders. It is time the IRS demanded to be shown where all the money is.

  • DamOTclese2

    Look at what the Scientology crime syndicate does against the citizens of Clearwater. Just be lucky the Scientology homicide rate there in your city doesn’t match the insane criminals’ in Clearwater.

  • chuck

    In the Daily News article, Todd OConner, a managing partner of Bru, the beer hall next door at 1316 Chestnut, calls 1314 a “blight”. To my eye the real blight on the block are the crappy little planters that Bru has bolted to the sidewalk to create a dining/drinking area. OK, I get that L&I looks the other way for outdoor seating, but these planters are fixed to the sidewalk 24/7 and Bru leaves their shitty picnic tables chained in a pile outside overnight, basically creating outdoor storage space on Chestnut Street. Hey, Paul Levy! You don’t think that this mess should be reeled in?

    • IASREG

      Unlike Scientology they have customers and and they contribute to the tax base, Scientology won’t. You need to word clear blight. The mess at hand to be reeled in is Scientology’s blight. A big problem would be of course paying for renovations since there are very few parishioners to reg. A huge problem is nobody would show up for the opening event. Sea Org members would have to be shipped in and then when the event sucked anyway David Miscavige would rain abuse down thru the organization.

  • Tina Brown

    Kick this cult out your precious city. They do nothing but bring destruction, ruining family lives, making people bankrupt and create robots.

  • dagobarbz

    In Boston, the Scientologists bought the historic Ivory Bean building and neglected it. When bricks started coming loose, threatening passersby, the city stepped in and razed the Ivory Bean. The majority of classic buildings purchase by the cult seem empty and neglected.

  • Madora Pennington

    Good thing people inside Scientology aren’t allowed to read anything about Scientology, or they might find out and get mad.