Blighted Scientology Building Returned To Tax Rolls

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Scientologists will have to pay taxes after sitting on plans to resurrect Ron Hubbard’s spirit inside the deteriorating doors of a former furniture store — now that the city revoked the church’s tax-exempt status.

Acting City Tax Assessor Alex Pullen informed the Church of Scientology of Connecticut, Inc. in a notice dated Feb. 2 that the organization must pay taxes this coming July on the property at 949 Whalley Ave., which has remained largely tax-exempt for two decades.

That’s because, Pullen said, ​“the property is not being used for a tax-exempt purpose.”

Built as a Masonic lodge in 1930, the property last served as the home of a Hallock’s furniture store. The Connecticut chapter of the Church of Scientology purchased 949 Whalley Ave. back in 2003 for $1.5 million.

The plan was to make the property a New Haven home base for the church and a classroom space for subscribers to study the principles of the religious movement, invented by science fiction writer Ron Hubbard in 1953.

The church has instead rented a property across the road at 980 Whalley Ave. while promising for more than two decades to fix-up the blighted site. 949 Whalley has stood empty and deteriorating while the church has avoided paying property taxes due to the property’s ostensible standing as a place of worship.

Westville neighbors have advocated for alternative uses of the property, saying the building should stimulate their neighborhood’s economy rather than bringing more blight. Read more about that history here.

Pullen wrote in his notice to the church that because there is ​“no construction under progress” at 949 Whalley to convert the property into a religious space, the building can no longer receive consideration as a place of worship that could merit tax exemption.

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