Tuesday, April 19, 2011

☞ SHOP: Scientology Harlem Moves On


The Church of Scientology had planned to make some major moves in Harlem a few years back but now it looks like the institution has closed the leased storefront on 16 East 116th Street.  A photo from last year (at top) shows the awning that was up just east of 5th Avenue but a more recent photo taken this month has a rent sign up. It is still unclear what will happen to some of the property the church owns on 125th Street but reported financial problems might prevent the organization to expand further north.  More details on those 125th Street buildings can be found in our past post: LINK

28 comments:

  1. Central Harlem AnonymousApril 19, 2011 at 10:08 AM

    I don't often get as far east as their lots on East 125th Street. Have they done any work on them?

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  2. Whenever a Scientologist stops me, I always ask if I get to sleep with Tom Cruise if I join up. They usually leave me alone after that.

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  3. I definitely saw a Scientology church on 141st and 7th

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  4. One of the biggest differences between a "nasty cult" and major religions is the number of followers. I wish I could say good riddance to a lot of the churches in the area whose congregants ignore the law by double-parking every Sunday, but that sentiment would be seen as offensive by many. Just the other day I saw an ambulance on 145th stuck in traffic because of the double-parking.

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  5. Sorry, UptownGirl, you and I usually see eye to eye but I have to disagree with you and say that I find that comment, especially during Passover and Holy Week, somewhat offensive. I sympathise with your gripe about double parking but that’s a separate issue

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  6. I am with you on this one Uptown religion is a goof and one man's cult is another man's cause. If you doubt that please look at how Christianity started. I will not say anything more.

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  7. As an atheist, I am inclined to think that we would all be better off with a bit less superstition -- regardless of the source.

    But I am also inclined to believe it is important for us all to make an effort to respect one another (especially on this blog, if we are to be successful in keeping the tone civil).

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  8. And there are plenty who would be offended by dismissive comments about any religion, including Scientology. As the saying goes, if you can dish it out you should be able to take it.

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  9. Cool Blue Reason - Good point regarding civility. Disparaging any religion (or those who are non-believers) shouldn't have a place on this blog.

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  10. I certainly agree with not making disparaging comments on religious devotion. However, the behavior of congregants is indeed a quality of life issue, and more than fair fodder for comments. I myself have found Sunday church-goers to be incredibly intolerant of simple civilities -- the double parking, the amplified noise and the disrespect for neighbors is a problem for believers and non-believers alike.

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  11. Sunday church-goers haven't been a problem at all for me and I live pretty close to a few churches. I think it is a nice part of Harlem to see a lot of these people in their Sunday best making an effort with the hats and all that. Granted, I don't drive so double parking doesn't cause me a lot of bother.

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  12. I live behind a church that has -- sadly -- decided to add live gospel music to Sunday services. Heavily amplified! So I get stuck listening to this stuff Sundays whether I want to or not. I have gently asked them to lower the microphones ... and they looked at me like I was a murderer!

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  13. If one goes to the disco, then one should learn to dance. Harlem's cultural and religious tradition trumps all. So read your Sunday Times, have your brunch, do your yoga exercises or walk your dogs with this understanding. I am not religious and I don't attend church but I look forward to Harlem Sundays for all of its pomp and circumstance, double parked cars, and more importantly, the choir singing and band playing. There are plenty of other areas of Manhattan where one can reside that does not include this particular historical ritual. It's all a part of what makes New York City unique and special!

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  14. I see they've moved uptown hoping to scam some more poor suckers with their nonsense. As for the churches, unfortunately, while their gospel charm and tradition is nice, it has done nothing to improve the community except to line the pockets of the pastors. One of Harlem's biggest drawbacks is the unchecked number of churches on every block. Once the church issue is resolved, Harlem will thrive.

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  15. Personally I like the church part of Harlem’s culture and pomp and circumstance is a great description and enjoy strolling past a church with the gospel music pouring out onto the street. However I am fortunate enough to not have it blasting through my window every Sunday and I sympathize with the frustrations of those who have to suffer through this every week. An unfortunate part of Harlem’s culture is to turn the volume way up to uncomfortable levels beyond being able to even hold a conversation, which may be something that has to change.

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  16. Once the church ‘Issue’ is resolved Harlem will thrive as WHAT, Pignoli? I don’t think your vision of a thriving Harlem is the same as mine or of those many many people who worship at the churches.

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  17. I think that what Pignoli is referring to is the fact that churches have the ability to shoot down businesses such as bars/lounges due to the proximity laws. This has given them a serious power base.

    The lounge that was to open on Lenox and 119th is the perfect example.

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  18. So Harlem needs more bars and less churches. More alcohol, less of all this God nonsense? More like the East Village and less like, well, Harlem?

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  19. Harlem does have too many churches. Their power base is actively undermining efforts to re-energize the community and its businesses. They're not interested in the people of Harlem, or even god, per se, but in achieving their own ends and maintaining their stranglehold on the unwary.

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  20. Way to paint all with a very wide brush.

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  21. What have the churches done for the community. Have they helped stop the cycle of poverty and despair? I'm well aware of the tradition of the church in Harlem and I by no means think it should disappear. But, please, multiple churches on every block. Who is profiting from these tax exempt churches? The people of Harlem? I think not. Imagine if a few tax paying businesses replaced some of these churches. And they don't have to be bars or clubs, maybe even a restaurant that doesn't serve fast food, opened where people from the community could actually work. No, until Harlem addresses the overabundance of tax exempt churches that sit on very valuable real estate, Harlem's development will lag. Again, there are beautiful churches in Harlem, but even if half were gone, there would be more than enough.

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  22. Sanou you and I never have butt heads before but on this issue we must. You have painted what I said with a wide brush as you put it.

    I was in no way implying that there be less places for people to worship; in fact what I was suggesting is that their influence on what businesses can be near them be significantly dampened. As pignoli and Bob pointed out they like to cherry pick things that suit their needs and that is not always what the community needs and in all truthfulness I would rather the owners of these properties have the power to allocate what they want in their space over church pastors.

    Also as pignoli pointed out churches and their pastors tend to get fat off their tax exempt status while we "normal" citizens pay taxes. I would like to be able to double park whenever I want but can't meanwhile whenever the church across the street from me have an event there is double parking galore. I would like to be tax exempt but I'm not a church so i have to pay taxes.

    Finally I would like to point out that this city is ever evolving and to say that Harlem should stay one way or another is to sound like the folks who complain that the "white" people have moved in and moved them out and that they pine for the "old" Harlem. Harlem needs eateries as well as a few good lounges so that the folks who spend their hard earned downtown can opt to spend it where they live; it will spur job growth as well as other types of commerce.

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  23. Personally I feel churches shouldn't get any more breaks than secular non-profits. And churches have most certainly been a problem for Harlem... Our townhouse went from a perfectly livable building to a crack house to an uninhabitable shell while a "church" owned it. Churches haven't policed themselves, and there have been many abuses (even by respected churches). It's time they're treated like any other non-profit. They aren't the only ones doing good things for the community. And yes, Sanou's Mum, more bars and fewer churches would be welcome by many of us. People just aren't as religious as they were 30 or 50 years ago - they aren't going to church, yet they still need to meet their neighbors. Neighborhood pubs are just another place where people can hang out and build relationships with their neighbors. Those relationships strengthen the community. Personally I'd like to see Harlem have a gay bar - Washington Heights has one. And who doesn't want additional restaurants? Well , they need liquor licenses too...

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  24. @BW—I was chatting with a fellow-church member just a few weeks ago who is both a gay bar aficionado and a real estate broker and he was pondering why gay bars have drifted uptown from Chelsea into Hell’s Kitchen and then completely hopscotched Harlem and gone into Washington Heights. We came to no conclusion.

    If licensing is so restrictive, as I always thought, how do we get a liquor store on 7th and 115-116 on the same block as a huge church and Settapani right across from one?

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  25. SM: I'm guessing it is not a matter of complete exclusion, so much as churches effectively having authority over whether something in that category can be granted an exception.

    Which would mean it probably comes down to who you know, and how much you grease the wheels. And that's got to be a significantly higher hurdle for a gay bar to clear, given that it is certain to offend at least somebody's sensibilities within the group that wields veto power.

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  26. CBR—the SLA is a mystery. And not a good one. But excluding gay bars for the moment, many posters on this site bemoan the lack of decent bars/pubs/clubs (and I would LOVE a good pub) and blame it on the churches, especially on the storefront churches of dubious provenance. Your theory that it is churches of some influence that allow the SLA to grant or deny is undermined by this contention. No?

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