LeBust: Scientology's dark tower on Chestnut Street - 2016-01-16
Braverman, founder and owner of LeBus Bakery, says he spent close to $1 million on Scientology during nearly four decades - on the church's so-called auditing sessions to restore "beingness and ability," on travel to its massive Flag Building in Clearwater, Fla., and in fulfilling constant requests for donations. He also provided the catering for fundraising events.
Foremost in his largesse was the estimated six-figure sum he gave toward purchase of the 15-story former Cunningham Piano Building, on Chestnut near 13th Street. The church bought the building in 2007 for $7.85 million, touting it as its first "skyscraper" to replace its longtime Philly headquarters a half-mile away on Race Street. Plans for the building included a chapel, a bookstore, and even an office for a dead man - Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, who died in 1986.
But the Chestnut Street building appears no closer to opening in 2016 than it did in 2007. According to the Department of Licenses and Inspections, the Church of Scientology has yet to apply for work permits on the property. An L&I spokeswoman said recently that an issue over sprinklers and standpipes could land the church in blight court if a variance isn't granted by the Fire Department.