Scientology moving into downtown Pasadena

Neighbors’ reaction on group’s relocation mixed

PASADENA – Scientologists will soon have a sizable presence in Old Pasadena.

Last week, local members of the Church of Scientology purchased the historic Braley Building, at 35 S. Raymond Ave., and immediately donated it to their church.

“We have been looking for a building for quite some time now,” said Eden Stein, president of the church’s Pasadena branch. “People love beautiful things; this will be a beautiful space for our parishioners to go to.”

Plans for the building include a bookstore and information center on the ground floor, 250-person chapel and meeting room in the basement, and classrooms in the building’s top three floors.

The church’s Pasadena branch is presently located in a much smaller space at 1277 E. Colorado Blvd.

For neighboring business owners, the relocation of this controversial religious group into the popular shopping and dining area has prompted a mix of emotions.

“I’ve heard some of the people here have said `Oh my goodness, there are going to be people passing out pamphlets in the street,” said Fritzie Culick, owner of the nearby Old Town Music Company.

“Is this going to be a major impact? What kind of impact?,” she asked. “I think everybody’s just waiting to see, with their fingers crossed.”

Local property owner Jim Plotkin urged tolerance, and suggested – as did representatives of the church – that the parishioners could boost surrounding businesses.

“They’ve still got to eat a pizza, have a sandwich or an ice cream cone, they’ve still got to wear clothes,”
he said.

For some of the Braley Building’s current tenants, though, the prospect of moving was itself worrisome.

“If I have to find another location, it will be extremely expensive,” said Il Fornaretta owner Cesare di Lorenzo. “This building’s tenants, they are like family. I am extremely satisfied with my location and I love all my customers.”

About half of the building’s 22 tenants had month-to- month leases which will not be renewed. The church has bought the leases of all other tenants with the exception of di Lorenzo’s, who was not satisfied by their offers.

He has 19 years left in his lease.

Once the tenants are gone – which will likely happen by the end of summer – the church has planned a restoration of the building’s exterior and renovation of its interior.

The Braley Building was built in 1906 by local figure Edgar Braley as an auto showroom and repair shop. Valued at $4.9million by the Los Angeles County Tax Assessor last year, it is in the National Register of Historic Places.

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
Pasadena Star-News, USA
July 6, 2006
Elise Kleeman

Religion News Blog posted this on Thursday July 6, 2006.
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