Philly/Philadelphia - Local Org Being Taken to Blight Court

samsid

New Member
http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20131127_Guiding_blight.html

JASON NARK, DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER [email protected], 215-854-5916
POSTED: Wednesday, November 27, 2013, 12:16 AM


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 philadelphiaideal.org, 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."

One of Miscavige's biggest accomplishments at the helm of Scientology was gaining tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service in 1993. Levy said the Chestnut Street building has a market value of $7.3 million.

Last week, Pouw said the Philadelphia Ideal Org "is definitely on the lineup, but planning changes have necessitated completing other projects first." She also said planning and construction documents are "in progress" for the building "and about 50 other properties internationally."

Rebecca Swanson, a spokeswoman for L&I, said the Church of Scientology has obtained no permits for construction on the property and has been in violation of the city's "doors-and-windows" ordinance since January for having "multiple boarded windows."

As a result of the outstanding violation, Swanson said, the city is sending Scientology to Blight Court, a municipal-court hearing that could result in fines of up to $300 per day for each boarded opening.

"The property owner has failed to comply [with] the violation, despite notice from L&I, and the building remains a blighting influence on the block and the neighborhood," Swanson said.

In an email yesterday, Pouw said the church would address the window issue soon. She wrote that a "single window that a workman temporarily repaired with plywood" was "hardly news."

"[A]n occasional broken window is an occupational hazard when one undertakes the kind of extensive building restoration projects in major urban areas that we do," Pouw wrote.

Scientology critics say the church purchases "Ideal Org" buildings around the world through constant fundraising efforts, but that most are empty because the church allegedly exaggerates its numbers.

Even if an adequate building is already in use, "the locals are put under intense pressure to raise millions of dollars to purchase a historic building for a new Ideal Org," said Tony Ortega, a journalist who has been writing about Scientology since 1995. "After the property is secured, there's then another round of fundraising to raise millions more for renovations."

The Daily News reached out to six top donors on a list of more than 200 contributors on the Philadelphia Freedom Org website, but none returned calls seeking comment.

Pouw said Scientology has 10,000 adherents in the Philadelphia area, where a smaller building on Race Street near 13th is still in use by the church. One former church member who lived in Philly for 25 years and asked not to be identified said fewer than 100 Scientologists were active in the city.

A Google Maps image of Chestnut Street from 2011 showed signs of life in the one-story building owned by the church adjacent to the former Cunningham Piano building. Men sat at a table outside, and posters in the window promoted "Free Stress Tests" and Hubbard's famous book, Dianetics. On Monday, a "Closed" sign sat in the window behind a metal gate, and locals said it's been that way for a long time.

"We look at that place longingly. We could just knock down the wall and expand the bar," said Todd O'Connor, a managing partner at the German beer hall Bru next door. "It's such a blight. It just doesn't make sense to us."


Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20131127_Guiding_blight.html#yjpJPJAqq64LeFGf.99
 

Type4_PTS

Diamond Invictus SP
City of Philadelphia Taking Scientology to Blight Court Over "Ideal Org" Building

A couple years ago the Mayor declared war on those who neglected empty buildings and lots.

The Daily News contacted the CoS in 2011 and "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."

As is typical, the CoS lied about all this. :duh:

The "Blight Court" can fine them $300 a day for each window and door not up to code, meaning they must be usable and not boarded up.

Full Story on Philly.com
http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20131127_Guiding_blight.html



 

Enthetan

Master of Disaster
Re: City of Philadelphia Taking Scientology to Blight Court Over "Ideal Org" Building

From the article:

"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."

One of Miscavige's biggest accomplishments at the helm of Scientology was gaining tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service in 1993. Levy said the Chestnut Street building has a market value of $7.3 million.

The "Ideal Org" program seems to be a way to "park" buildings that are in need of renovation, and exempt them from taxes while so parked. Perhaps to sell them later at a higher price when the real-estate market is better?
 

Type4_PTS

Diamond Invictus SP
Re: City of Philadelphia Taking Scientology to Blight Court Over "Ideal Org" Building

The "Ideal Org" program seems to be a way to "park" buildings that are in need of renovation, and exempt them from taxes while so parked. Perhaps to sell them later at a higher price when the real-estate market is better?

Plus it's a way to buy buildings using other peoples money. :yes:

And then later don't they also charge the orgs rent for these buildings? :unsure:

Of course it's Scientology so it doesn't have to make sense. :no::duh:
 

Arthur Dent

Silver Meritorious Patron
Re: City of Philadelphia Taking Scientology to Blight Court Over "Ideal Org" Building

Plus it's a way to buy buildings using other peoples money. :yes:

And then later don't they also charge the orgs rent for these buildings? :unsure:

Of course it's Scientology so it doesn't have to make sense. :no::duh:

Yes, they do charge the orgs rent. The perfect scam. I wish the IRS would pull the plug on them.
 

PTS

Elliott
Re: City of Philadelphia Taking Scientology to Blight Court Over "Ideal Org" Building

Do fish swim? Nothing is ever $cientology's fault. It isn't their fault that the community doesn't want to stare at boarded-up windows. They're not out of ARC with the city, the city is out of ARC with them! You'd think that the cult would at least try to raise the tone of their discourse but instead they make excuses. Perhaps Slappy should study Success Through Communication?
 

Lermanet_com

Gold Meritorious Patron
Re: City of Philadelphia Taking Scientology to Blight Court Over "Ideal Org" Building

Do fish swim? Nothing is ever $cientology's fault. It isn't their fault that the community doesn't want to stare at boarded-up windows. They're not out of ARC with the city, the city is out of ARC with them! You'd think that the cult would at least try to raise the tone of their discourse but instead they make excuses. Perhaps Slappy should study Success Through Communication?

Nothing is ever a sociopath's fault either.
 
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Axiom142

Gold Meritorious Patron
Re: City of Philadelphia Taking Scientology to Blight Court Over "Ideal Org" Building

They just can’t catch a break, can they? Bad publicity everywhere, everything they touch goes bad.

Let’s hope the city start the fine clock now. Hopefully they will have done their research and know that the cult has done this many times before and the only way to get them to comply is to rack up the fines and enforce payment.

Obviously, Miscavige doesn’t care how much of his ‘parishioners’ money gets eaten up, but after a couple of years more of being empty, the Philly Scilons might take umbrage at $200K+ of their money, going into the coffers of the city.

Actually, isn’t this a brilliant way for cash-strapped cities to raise extra funds? Entice the cult to buy up all sorts of buildings at knock-down prices and then hit them with fines for not doing what they promised they would? It’s a sure-fire winner! Even if he knows it is a trap, Miscavige will still bite as he knows he can extract more money from the rubes than he will have to pay in fines.

I’m sending an email to the mayor of Detroit…

Ax
 

Wants2Talk

Silver Meritorious Patron
Re: City of Philadelphia Taking Scientology to Blight Court Over "Ideal Org" Building

This building should be taxed until it is occupied and in use as in Connecticut.
 

Idle Morgue

Gold Meritorious Patron
Re: City of Philadelphia Taking Scientology to Blight Court Over "Ideal Org" Building

I believe the Cult still has to pay taxes until the building is occupied. If someone lives in Phili - you can check out the tax assessor' office.

Gavin Potter is doing a seminar - "How to use the "tek" to make billions in Real Estate using other people's money"...now playing at an Idle Morgue near you!! LOL
 

Jquepublic

Silver Meritorious Patron
Re: City of Philadelphia Taking Scientology to Blight Court Over "Ideal Org" Building

Here are some details about the building and some fines they had up to 2011.
http://www.forum.exscn.net/showthre...l-leaks-thread&p=741640&viewfull=1#post741640

Original story
Guiding Blight
http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20131127_Guiding_blight.html

Pouw said Scientology has 10,000 adherents in the Philadelphia area, where a smaller building on Race Street near 13th is still in use by the church :hysterical::hysterical:

Karen Pouw is hilarious! Seriously, there may be 10,000 adherents on the east coast (doubtful), but in Philly? No. Average event attendance was about 60 - 75 people and that was WORK to pull off, and bodies in the shop was around that (60-70) each week. Not much has changed according to an old acquaintance of mine, and the list of their donors on the Ideal org website tells me that they haven't experienced any straight up and vertical expansion. I know 85% of those names. Several are children, second genners.

They can't afford the Int Landlord jacked up rent they're paying at Race Street, they definitely can't afford - and do not need and cannot FILL - the PNC building.
 

CommunicatorIC

@IndieScieNews on Twitter
Gizmodo: Philly Is Suing Scientology Over Its Vacant "Cathedral of the Future"
http://gizmodo.com/philly-is-suing-scientology-over-its-vacant-cathedral-1475854816

Excerpts:

The Church of Scientology has reportedly spent roughly half a billion dollars buying up buildings in U.S. cities over the past few years—but, in many cases, these huge buildings have remained vacant. Now, the city of Philadelphia is taking the church to court over an empty tower.

Using $7.85 million in donations, the church bought the 15-story Cunningham Piano building in downtown Philly back in 2007. The idea was to renovate the tower into a "cathedral" called the Philadelphia Freedom Org, which would broadcast L. Ron's message to the good people of greater Philly. Instead, the building has sat untouched for six years.

Now, the city's Department of Licenses & Inspections is taking the church to "blight court," a special municipal court that deals with violations like an ordinance that outlaws any building from boarding up multiple doors and windows (the church's tower has several).
A January, 2013 BuzzFeed expose about dissent within the church reveals even more about its real estate "boom"—including the fact that keeping these buildings closed is a way for the central church to wring more cash from local members:
According to ex-executives, the Ideal Org money play is simple: Find beautiful buildings; get local parishioners to foot the bill; keep them closed; keep fundraising; open them; and finally, have the parishioners pay for renovations, buy supplies, and send money to the central church for the right to practice there.
 

Udarnik

Gold Meritorious Patron
Race Street was utterly dead this summer. I was at the hotel right next to it in a business trip and didn't see a single soul go in over a 2 day period. The lights were on, but there were no indications if people working behind the closed blinds, either.
 

Idle Morgue

Gold Meritorious Patron

Doesn't the City of Philedelphia know that David Miscavige NEVER intended to open up these buildings...it was part of the scam to have real estate holdings for his insatiable appetite for John Lobb shoes, expensive Scotch, fancy jets and autos and a very lavish lifestyle...not to mention his slush fund for his lawyers to keep him out of court..

David Miscavige opened a few to get the show on the road...but that was part of the dog and pony show...the real intention was to collect real estate so he can amass money...GPM - Goal...to get the stupid clubbed seals to give Scientology everything for "ideal orgs"...problem....to solve world insanity...mass....tons of real estate to be cashed in as the cult dies!

NOt all the Ideal Org buildings are tax exempt...many have to pay real estate taxes. Previous posts show St Louis Org is behind $150,000 or more on their real estate taxes for the past 3 years...they don't get "tax exempt status until they open" and they will never open because everyone is broke and ruined...so rumor has it that St Louis is selling their Ideal Org building....the staff got a BIG FLUNK from COB!!

St Louis is the real example of "Ideal Org"....cashing in and blaming the staff for "not getting it done"! This caves in staff so they quit and then replace them with noobies fresh out of OOT training at the Fraud Scam Base who don't know and will be told the "previous staff were SP's or DB's and could not get the job done...but YOU CAN...and so the cycle repeats itself.

It is so obvious....Scientology is a SCAM and the SCAM is EPIC!
 
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