Scientology building project in St. Paul looks stalled

There’s not much activity visible these days at the downtown St. Paul building owned by the Church of Scientology.

Just a few months ago, the place was buzzing as construction crews got busy converting the former Science Museum of Minnesota into the church’s new regional offices.

The church bought the building at 505 N. Wabasha St. in 2007. The structure had previously been home to the Minnesota Business Academy, a charter high school that went belly up after running into financial problems.

scientology.JPGIn April, crews put up construction fences and started filling big metal bins with construction waste. A construction permit indicated the church planned to spend $2.5 million on remodeling. The permit listed an estimated completion date of May 12.

In the past few weeks, activity visible from the street has been minimal. The construction fences, waste bins and material chute are still in place. Several parking meters on Wabasha are hooded.

The church’s construction permit remains active, but there are indications the project has stalled. For one thing, the contractor has not asked for an inspection on the construction project, according to records reviewed by Angie Wiese, the public information officer for the city’s Department of Safety and Inspections. The most recent inspection was for elevator work in April, she said.

The permit will be good unless work halts for six months. Then the church would need to apply for an extension.

The church’s permit for blocking the sidewalk and parking meters on a downtown street could get pulled if work is halted for a significant period.

“The permit is still good right now,” said Shannon Tyree, a spokeswoman for St. Paul Public Works. “But it does sound like the contractor may just be closing this out.”

Tyree suggested I call the contractor, JE Dunn Construction, for more detail. No one with the company returned my call. Ditto for the Minneapolis office of the Church of Scientology.

UPDATE 3:05 p.m. Friday: Nothing like questions from a news blogger to generate some activity. Sometime very recently the construction fence on Wabasha came down and the parking meter hoods were removed. It’s unclear whether this means the project is done and awaiting inspection, or whether the Church of Scientology has put off its move from Minneapolis.

scientology_street.JPG

In April, crews were busy remodeling the former Minnesota Business Academy into new offices for the Church of Scientology. (MPR Photo/Tim Nelson)

  • Johanna Den Boer

    I live in the Gallery Tower condo’s next door to this building. The “church” are very poor neighbors, the snow on the sidewalks is NEVER plowed in the winter. This makes walking home very difficult, and even more so for the elderly and handicapped.

    Get on with the project already and take some responsiblity for your property.

  • osa handlers

    @Johanna

    Be careful speaking out against this vindictive “Church”, they’ve been known to do very nasty things to critics. The OSA handlers who patrol the Internet will probably verbally attack you here when they show up.

  • Pretty funny, I noticed a couple hours ago that the whole area got cleaned up quite a bit. Nice work, Bob!

  • Daniel

    There was an article a couple of days ago, about the Church of Scientology unable to pay it’s water bill in Orange County, California.

    Mmmmmm……..what’s wrong cult??? Can’t pay your utility bills, even when you have “tax exempt” status and don’t have to pay taxes like everyone else????

    Someone should slip and fall on their snow covered sidewalks, and sue their asses off!!!

    Keep up the reporting, the pig’s bank is running out!!!!!

  • Gia

    I hope for the resident’s sake that these plans are scrapped. I would rather have a prison in my neighborhood than these con artists and fraudsters. Scientologyu is infamous for stiffing utilitu companies, and contractors. They block off the streets for special “events” forcing old ladies on walkers to “go around”. The city planner in Albequerque called it a late Christmas present when they left his city. (Owing thousands in unpaid rent)

    To say Scientoloy doesn’t make a good neighbor is beyond an understatement.

  • xenu’sshrink

    Wow, just think of the huge property taxes on this valuable piece of downtown property that the City of St. Paul can collect to help with improving roads, bridges, parks, bike paths, and maybe even the homeless at the nearby shelter. Oh wait, I forgot, the building was purchased by a cult supported by a cutthroat business that has blackmailed and bullied IRS into giving it tax exempt status as a “church”. There’s nothing in it for St. Paul except for an empty, old science museum that is permanently “under construction” .

  • callie

    Another interesting story – why does Scientology, Inc. do this in nearly every city they inhabit? I live in Clearwater, Florida, the organization’s “spiritual headquarters.” They’ve had their giant ‘Super Power’ building project going on for more than 15 years, and it’s STILL not done! Worse, I’ve seen CHILDREN working on the construction site. Please look into the multiple allegations of slave labor within their organization!

  • Morganna

    If it ever opens, they’d better heat that building adequately, because nothing worse than getting brainwashed in freezing temperatures. It could lead to brain freeze. And a “meat body” needs a brain, if only to KSW (Keep Scientology Working).

    Also, neighbors shouldn’t worry about a traffic problem. If the building is ever finished, the cult will have only a handful of customers. They are pretty much dead, except in LA/Hollywood and Clearwater, FL, their “processing” mecca.

    Prepare for a grand opening where they truck in hundreds of zombies, to make it look like the Twin Cities is gripped by $cientology fever. Or not. They could just op to keep pressuring the bots to pay up, like they did with the Super Power building. Taking 15 years to build that has turned into a cash cow where the cult has collected “donations” more than twice its cost.

  • Artoo45

    That a former science museum is now in the cult’s grasping hands is totally sickening. From good science to bad science fiction.

  • Dr. Hubbard

    Thank god! Get that freaking crazy cult outta here! Scientologists are brainwashed and have no real sense of community. There disconnection policy is proof of that. St. Paul needs to “disconnect” from Scientology. There are an evil empire under the guise of help.

  • Anonymous

    I hope it never get’s done.

    Scientology is a cult and I’m proud to be an unofficial SP

  • Mn Native

    The community will be save a lot of heartache by not having this cult in their community. The St. Petersburg Times recently did a series exposing the coerced abortions and other abuses that go on within the management group of Scientology.

    My neighbors sister works at their current Mpls location. The family are very concerned for her well-being and what she is involved with, but are afraid to say much to the sister. They fear “disconnection”. Her sister was recruited to work at the cult by a man who pretended he was romantically interested in her. Now she is brainwashed and broke. So sad.

  • charlieuk

    The cult have 2 buildings in N/E UK the sunderland org doors have not been seen open in 8 months and the place is generally of a tatty appearance.

    Gateshead idle org is a wreck and the council is in discution as to it should put a compulsery purchase order on it as its in a town centre location and a eyesore

  • Jim Stevens

    Hopefully Scientology has finally stopped pretending their is interest in their cult and has decided to scrap the project

  • Jon Jorr

    Scientology is not a bonafide religion. It is a money-making scam that preys on the desperate and gullible. This so-called “church” runs secret prisons where staff members suspected of disloyalty are sent to perform years of slave labor under cruel conditions without proper food or any medical care, and totally cut off from any contact with friends, family, or the outside world.

    Most religions benefit the community, but Scientology operates to fleece the public, the government, and the taxpayers in every conceivable way possible, while waging war on its critics. Even their “charities” that they so often point to as shining examples of their supposed benevolence are actually profit-centers set up specifically to exploit government funding and expand their fundraising reach.

  • xenu’sshrink

    MN native. So sorry to hear about your sister. Just tell her you love her now and always and that your door is always open–no questions asked. We lost (hopefully temporarily) our daughter to scientology, but she is very slowly but surely beginning to realize that she made a big mistake in joining up with them. She’s starting to call us more often and is beginning to talk about visiting family and friends. We are very careful to not talk about religion or politics (or scientology) and try to keep the conversations light and fun and warm so that she won’t feel threatened. We are angry with these scumbags for messing with our beautiful daughter and our family and would love to sue the bastards as soon as we get the opportunity. Good luck MN native.

  • johanna

    HMMMM

    Funny all sign of construction disappeared on Friday, perhaps the “church” is not paying the contractors, image that.

  • Paul McSaint

    It’s against a St. Paul ordinance for the “Church” of Scientology to leave the name of the previous owner (Minnesota Business Academy) on the building. Those signs should have been removed years ago, but the Church of Scientology is famous for not following laws. They constantly fool local officials who see the word “church” and think it’s a real religion and not a money making scam.

  • ed cox

    All religions are a scam folks