Scientology is making headlines in a new article the New Have Independent.
They have owned the “new” ideal org for 20 years — yes TWENTY and have done NOTHING with it.
It was one of the early announcement that Miscavige made, touting his “ideal org” program, and even had a “fly-through” CGI video showing what the renovated building would “soon” look like. This and the Battle Creek Michigan “ideal” building are probably the two oldest unrenovated ideal orgs (unless you count Toronto which has been there since before the ideal org kick even started).
The locals are not impressed. Here are some excerpts from the story (including two photos of the building):
A former Westville department store remains fenced off, empty and rundown — 20 years after the Church of Scientology bought the property, five years after the church last won permission to convert the site into a religious hub, and one year after a city board found that the long-vacant building should stay off the tax rolls.
That’s the latest with 949 Whalley Ave.
This year marks the two-decade anniversary of the Church of Scientology’s purchase of the former Hallock’s furniture store property in September 2003 for $1.5 million. The building opened in the 1930s as a Masonic lodge.
For the past 20 years the prominent Westville building has sat empty under the ownership of a local chapter of a modern international religion founded by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, popularized by Hollywood celebrities like Tom Cruise and John Travolta, and sharply criticized by investigative journalists like Lawrence Wright.
According to the city’s online tax records, the church, which operates out of a rented commercial storefront up a block across the street, has not had to pay any property taxes on 949 Whalley for at least a decade. The property remains tax-exempt today despite dissent between the city’s tax assessor and the Board of Assessment Appeals. (Read more on that below.) The city last appraised the property as worth nearly $3 million.
A key reason why the church has been able to preserve the property’s tax-exempt status is that it has long promised to renovate and revive the vacant building into a center for worship and public outreach.
“In any story you may write, please convey our dedication to restoring this landmark and others around the world for our parishioners and their communities,” Church of Scientology spokesperson Sonia Gobbini told the Independent in email comments provided for this article. “Our goal is restoration to magnificence.”
“The property requires top-to-bottom construction to return it to its former standing in the Westville Village Historic District,” Gobbini said of 949 Whalley.
The roof demands repairs; additional structural supports are needed; the foundations must be retrofitted to provide a base for the building; all new utility services, including water and sewer lines and an entire electrical system, are needed. Fresh asphalt, retaining walls and a storm drainage system, Gobbini continued, all remain on the church’s to-do list.
While Gobbini expressed the church’s intent to move forward with the project, nobody from the church would respond directly to repeated inquiries from the Independent as to why no construction progress has been made for such a substantial period of time.
The Church of Scientology has drawn attention for buying up properties around the state, securing tax-exemption and then leaving those buildings to rot. A similar situation in Philadelphia saw that city sue the Church of Scientology in 2013 for $8 million — for leaving a building empty just for six years, as opposed to 20. Read more here in the Tampa Bay Times about what cities like Clearwater, Florida, home to more expansive real estate takeovers by the Church of Scientology, are trying to do to prevent and respond to mass vacancy and stalled developments.
“It feels like a property owner who doesn’t have any intention of developing the property and had no intention of responding to pressure,” she said.
In the winter, she stated that the stretch of sidewalk along 949 Whalley Ave. is often the only portion that goes unshoveled.
“Any property owner with the type of resources the Church of Scientology has should be expected to [do] landscaping and manage the sidewalk,” she said.
“I’d love to see the city flex whatever muscles they have” to take back the building and bring new life to the property, but she said she was unsure what power the city had to intervene other than urging the property owners to sell the space to another developer.
At the very least, Donius said, “I do think the church should be paying taxes. I don’t think it would spur development, but we could at least be getting some money out of them.”
This is another example of how the great “ideal org” program has been a complete failure. Scientology is further away from “Clearing the Planet” or even making all orgs the size of old St Hill (the latest requirement for the release of the imaginary OT 9 and 10) than it ever has been.
Mick Wenlock says
Mike – I am intrigued as to how DM explains his way around
“HCO PL of 23 September 1970 “Quarters,
Policy Regarding – Historical” Copyright © 1970 by L. Ron Hubbard”
Mike Rinder says
Hey Mick. He doesn’t. He pretends this doesn’t exist. And to all intents and purposes, that is true. The OEC Vols have been out of print for more than a decade. He sold his version of the the building strategy when he announced he had done an evaluation and found “the Why” that orgs were not set up to deliver “all of scientology”, just like if an auditing room had no EMeter and chair… He’s been selling it as the “ideal org” program ever since and what Hubbard says about things is only relevant and important if he says it is. Ironically. the “Ideal Org” PL that his whole schtick is named after, contradicts his program in almost every p[paragraph.
Gawd. You know what Mike? I am torn between despising the little prat and being disappointed all at the same time. I know I should be probably be content that he is busy fecking it up and thus ensuring that this odious thing will fester and die, but I get kind of pissed off at the waste of such good people.
Mike Rinder says
Thanks Mick. I always enjoy seeing you comment here. It’s a little sign you are doing OK! 🙂
I’m reading this and looking at these pictures of 949 Whalley Ave.
Kinda out-PR, no?
(Aqua chhanneling Bette Davis in “The Petrified Forest”
Cigarette, high clipped voice, contemptuous eye-roll…”What a dump!”
From: David Miscavige COB RTC
Re: The Ideal Org Program.
How can you call our magnificent building in New Haven not impressive? All of our Ideal Org buildings are impressive! This is because I pick them out personally. All I need now is for those miserable lowlife org public to step up and do their part. Come on! Help make our beautiful buildings more beautiful!
To: David Miscavige COB RTC
Re: polishing a turd.
I can bring a hacksaw.
Will that help?
How about a wrecking ball?
No love at all,
The building is indeed magnificent, if one admires corrrectional facilities.
And forgive me, Sir, but your taste in buildings and furnishings and so forth – well, you know, I hate to be unkind so let me put it this way:
“You can take the guy out of South Philly, but you can’t take the South Philly out of the guy”.
From: David Miscavige COB RTC
Re: Scientology buildings.
First of all, I am not South Philly. I am pure Berks County. Boy, were those the days. Beating the shit out of little Amish kids! Easy, too because the Amish kids knew that if they told on me I would give them an even worse beating.
Second, I do not draw inspiration from correctional facilities when I select buildings for my Ideal Orgs. My orgs reflect the asthetic that is Scientology.
To: David Miscavige COB RTC
Re: Amish kids and ideal Orgs.
So you admit that at an early age you were being an SP.
Wow. That explains your taste in architecture.
No love at all,
Alco, no way this little beast is from the Berks 🙂 If he even traveled briefly thru their areas nothing about the Amish rubbed off on him. Their manners, their simple, rustic, serviceable taste have its own elegance.
As for Tiny’s taste, OMG. I mean, just look back at his Event sets!
Fake pillars, fluffy white clouds, positioning him as some kind of cheesy, suntanned pompadoured Second Coming. Gilt everywhere, gold leaf glinting or silver shining everywhere; crimson and della robia blue everywhere …this is what he likes!
if a low level Long Island mobster had a nightmare about being alive back in the 15th century in one of the Borgia family’s palaces, it would look like David Miscavige’s Int Event sets.
The worst taste – the WORST. The only places I know of decorated in worse taste are the public areas of Trump Tower in Manhattan.
I had read that he was born in South Philly and Ronnie Senior took the family to Berks County for a time. As for the Lancaster Amish, they are gentle people who pretty much keep to themselves and limit their interaction with outsiders. Little Davey is such an SP that he probably made fun of the Amish (until Ronnie Junior slapped him real good and told him to knock it off) and probably saw them as weak and pathetic.
Just thought of something. Do you think he ever paired up with Danny Bonaduce? He’s also from Philly, I believe.
Yes, I agree with that assessment of the Amish and as well I can definitely picture the Dwarf mocking and degrading them.
Miscavige probably hopes he can have enough cult members buy Clearwater buildings (and have them declared tax exempt) that the economy will crash. Property taxes will go through the roof for the remaining wogs, as the cult demands increasingly expensive services they won’t have to pay for. Then he can buy up the rest of town and have the whole place bulldozed. Probably not exactly how it will go, but I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised.
I wouldn’t be surprised either if Scientology alone in Clearwater were a wet dream of his but practically speaking the cult could not survive alone in the town. They need SOME people paying taxes to cover infrastructure upkeep, water, sewer, for police, firemen, EMS, etc.,
andy S says
They should build a wall around cult HQ in Clearwater and tell them to stew in their own juices. The film Escape from New York comes to mind.
Yes! That film. Perfect.
Could it be that Droob Mightyhair has not yet gotten around to figuring out a scam…scheme…ripoff…that’s it…fund raiser to use on the sheepbots to upgrade the building from crumbling mausoleum to not so fallen down morgue?
Empty buildings, the sentinels of applied Scientology and the graveyard of so many hopes and dreams.
Sad and very criminal.
The problem with Scientology is its content.
Author and collector of the content Scientology offers for sale (fixed donations paid in advance) L. Ron Hubbard is the fault for the unsuccessful content of Scientology not selling itself.
If Scientology’s theories and content were truly valuable, it would sell itself.
Scientology’s stepladder is to train people to do the Hubbard pseudo-therapy and exorcism. They do the pseudo-therapy and exorcism on each other. Scientology promises to get a person to soul fly out of their human body, once they’ve eliminated enough “case” from their soul memories (plus exorcise enough of the spirits that inhablit their human bodies too).
Scientology does not sell itself, and that’s why the Ideal Orgs are empty.
The subject isn’t selling, period.
If it worked, if the theories behind it were true, there’d be no need to even find enemies to blame why the subject’s not selling.
ex Sea Org 75 to 03
One of the key finance policies in SCN is never to spend reserve money but to make more. So the sea org reserves won’t shell out a penny for this org. Unless there’s something very big involved. Here in EU is full of orgs in these conditions. They don’t have the money to renovate, or their small public has been bled dry by the IAS and other fundraisers, or they’re simply staffed by four part-time cats.
Hey, hey, hey!
Pimps gotta pimp! Where are my ducats? Where my ho’s at?
Taxes? Get the fuck outta here! I’m Raving McSavage, and I
OWN all of you reactive, Teegeeackian meat-sacks!
I got slaves to slap and lawyers to pay and offshore accounts to monitor.
I AM Big Being Number One. I am dealing with grave matters of intergallactic import, so y’all can just fuck off!
By Tone 40 Decree,
The Bestest Ecclesiastical Gangster on The (W)hole Track
Fred G. Haseney says
Someone should put your comment to music, Mark. It’s got quite a beat, man!
Take it away, Fred!😎
Fred G. Haseney says
In articles published by the New Haven Independent, we find out how the so-called “church” of scientology of Connecticut presented their con to the city: please don’t bill us for property taxes because we promise to renovate 949 Whalley Avenue and turn it into a place of worship and a center for community outreach.
Yet the property sits empty. If scientology cared at all for the public, they would have opened the doors to their “ideal” organization years ago. It’s their claim, after all, that they are the only salvation for every man, woman, and child on planet Earth.
Why does this eyesore in Connecticut need a real estate project manager from Morristown, New Jersey (Larry Nardecchia of Avison Young), an architect from Atlanta, Georgia (Christopher Sanders), and a lawyer from Richmond, Virginia (Brian Brewer)? What are they planning to revive, the Parthenon of Athens, Greece? And don’t forget who is footing the bill: you are (the taxpayers).
Mr. Sanders, in his presentation to the City Plan Commision, noted that the facility, once renovated, would house a gym for church members. A gym? When’s the last time an “ideal” org included a gym? It’ll probably be, instead, a Purification Center. And, for that matter, where will the pews be located? The pulpit? Bibles? In this “modern international” religion’s plans for 949 Whalley, there will be no such items because scientology diametrically opposes Christianity.
This New Haven building is less than 20,000 sq. Ft. I thought all ideal buildings needed to be at least 50,000 square feet. Of course they may have fictional plans to expand it. If they were forced to pay taxes, at least eventually city could take over property for failure to pay taxes.
Jere Lull says
Didn’t I read in this that New Haven was among the first “ideal” orgs? Perhaps it snuck in before Davey thunk up the 50,000 square feet requirement. I’d LOVE to hear why he chose that particular number, which is so ARBITRARY, afaict.
MB, a couple of projects including Austin have involved additions to meet the space requirement. That was apparently smaller to begin with, and so some of these older purchases don’t meet the current requirement; several were sold off and replaced because of that, though in Boston for example they have yet to renovate and move into even the second building they purchased.
Toronto’s building has “only” been abandoned for about a decade, which on a trillion-year timeline is just a blip. And in St. Louis, they’ve long been in yet another old Masonic temple, that is now supposed to be renovated and expanded, rather than their moving to a historic building they bought about 15 years ago, and at one point spent about million dollars doing preliminary work on – but are now trying, unsuccessfully for years, to sell off a price acceptable to them.
The New Haven org, once in a commercial block, for quite a few years now has been in a converted large old house, with some odd exterior changes that to me leave it looking like it might well have been used as a funeral home at one point. The prospects of that small and failing org ever doing anything with the building they bought seem poor, unfortunately for the city and its other residents.
Jere Lull says
scientology taking over an old morgue is SO appropriate!
Stefani Hutchison says
“In the winter, she stated that the stretch of sidewalk along 949 Whalley Ave. is often the only portion that goes unshoveled.”
And there’re the Volunteer Ministers missing an opportunity to take photos of them shoveling it, then issuing a press release telling the world that they alone cleared ALL the sidewalks in the entire city!
Literally miles from downtown and at bottom of a mountain. Not great for body routing.
Karl Woodrow says
Connecticut is a wonderful state. When I used to drive into New Haven once a week to play with the Yale-New Haven Youth Symphony I was always very appreciative of the beautiful architecture. As a certified Connecticut Yankee I am embarassed that the City of New Haven tolerates these slum lords…
At least shovel ya frickin sidewalk ya lousy dead beats! 🤪
Jere Lull says
I can see some pedestrian suing the org for mega dollars for not clearing their sidewalk, which, IIRC, is legislated everywhere snow falls. Wouldn’t THAT just toast Captain Miscavige’s tiny buns?
Sheeple: Listen, Don’t Look. You can be free sheeple, Look Don’t Listen!
Joe Pendleton says
So THIS is why New Haven is not a hot bed of activity in furthering global clearing!!!!! Why don’t they just apply the Target Series and get it done? Are they incapable of applying standard admin? Misunderstood words the why? Out ethics? PTSness? …I DEMAND ANSWERS!!! Yes, I’m a declared SP who can’t have total freedom this lifetime, but I’m depending on these bozos to take over the planet for when I return in the future.
Jere Lull says
Bad bet, depending on scientologists to honor their promises. afaict, Hubbard never did pay no mind to actually delivering anything but more promises.
All the (justifiers) Scientology has for making the local public pay to renovate, don’t fly any more.
Local public are busy donating to IAS to enable OSA to hire PIs, Lawyers, pay people off, and make DMs world an oasis of decadence. Not to mention redoing the vaulted materials, etc etc, etc.
IF the real intention of Scientology was to get the majority of the planet to Clear, they could have done that easily long ago with the amount of money in the Oranization. And they could have paid Sea Org members better (at least toilet paper for goodness sakes).
That SHOWS the truth, that Clearing the Planet is NOT the real goal, period.
Thanks for pulling back the curtain Mike.
Karl Woodrow says
In case any readers do not understand the reference to toilet paper above, the organizations in my area had an annoying and disgusting habit of not providing TP in their restrooms! That meant that SO staff had to buy their own on their meager wages and students had to bring a roll to course with them.
It is unbelievably unbelievable how they can justify not providing people who work for the organisation some 60 hours and who get a mere $50 a week some basic toiletries, shampoo, soap, toothapaste etc etc. In the whole scheme of things its not the biggest of a sea org members worries but it just highlights the absurd greed of the group. whats next ? bring your own water to shower?
Ruth, they don’t even get most of their own staff to clear, which you’d think would be essential if they truly believed it improved people’s abilities in any way.
Exactly! That’s how your regged, don’t worry about how you will pay back a loan, as you gain ability, you will be more at cause over making more money. Why if that were true, then wouldn’t management be getting every staff member trained and audited as fast as they could? Why? Because it is not true.
Reading all that is needed it would probably be be better to tear the whole thing down and start over.
It would be safer, I know.
Agreed. I’ve done extensive renos on two old houses and it would have been easier and cheaper in the long run to start with a bulldozer. The electrical and plumbing in old buildings are a nightmare and structural integrity if not checked properly by a pro initially can ruin the whole project after you may have already spent a fortune. Plus with today’s supply issues, it’ll probably be left to rot and only be worth the land value. Ha, loose change I suppose to Miscavige and it’s not his money anyway.