Church Sells Idle Org Building
In the midst of all the other news last week, one story didn’t get the attention it deserved: the Church of Scientology has put their Portland, Oregon “Idle Org” building up for sale.
The Church bought the historic Stevens Building in downtown Portland, amid much breathless fanfare and hype, in January, 2008. At the time, the Portland Business Journal reported:
“After a years-long search for a building to call its own, The Church of Scientology of Portland has acquired the historic Stevens Building in an all-cash deal for $5.38 million.
“The sale was fueled by donations from church members. At 12 stories, it is the tallest building ever acquired by a local chapter of the Church of Scientology, according to Butler Brokers Commercial Realtors, which handled both sides of the transaction.”
The Church’s first action was to encourage all of the existing tenants of the building to move out before their leases expired. I thought that sounded like a dumb move at the time – to cut off all income from the building – but after all, they were in a hurry! They had urgent renovations to do, and “Ideal Org” to put there, right away, now, now!
I’ve seen the building. It’s huge – 56,480 square feet, twelve stories. It was hard to envision exactly how they would fill the space, considering they weren’t exactly packing them in at their Salmon Street offices or at their later temporary spaces on 13th Street.
Two years went by, and still the building stood empty. They were supposedly regging money for the renovations. How much they collected from their field, we don’t know.
Then, on March 31, it was suddenly announced in the Daily Journal of Commerce, Oregon, that the Church was selling the Stevens Building.
As the Church spins it, they found the building “unsuitable” for their needs. After two years.
Local OSA spinmeister Gwen Barnard issued a statement that said “What we didn’t realize is that there wasn’t a space big enough to have a large church service or a large church event.” Oh, I get it. They must have done the initial building inspection with blindfolds on. I’ve never been in the building, but even I can see there is nothing like an auditorium or big event space inside.
The Church claims about 1200 members in Oregon, and stated that they needed an event space that would hold about 250 people. Excuse me for pointing out the obvious, but if they have 1200 local members, why would that not want an event space that holds 1200 people? Particularly with all the “unprecedented expansion” we keep hearing about.
And the asking price? 4.95 million. By my calculations, if they bought it for 5.38 million and are selling it for 4.95 million, that’s a $430,000 loss – if they get their asking price.
One wonders if they are going to tell their parishioners about that $430,000 loss. One also wonders of they are going to return any of those “Ideal Org” donations for the building or its renovations.
I wouldn’t count on it.