Daily Notifications
Sign up for free emails to receive the feature story every morning in your inbox at


Scientology leader David Miscavige has empty buildings all over the world — here’s a rundown

Rod Keller keeps an eye on Scientology’s “Ideal Org” program for us, and he reminds us today of just how much empty real estate the church has lined up so David Miscavige can hold grand openings for years to come…

Scientology has opened four “Ideal Orgs” this year – Auckland, (San Fernando) Valley, Miami, and Copenhagen – but they are in no danger of running out of real estate. The church owns unused property on every continent, and some that we once thought were lost causes are now being renovated. The plan is to recast every Scientology org as an Ideal Org, along with a host of Ideal Advanced orgs and Continental Narconon drug rehab facilities. Here’s a look at Scientology’s unused properties.


[Chicago Ideal Org Renovations]


After failing to renovate the distressed Alexandria Hotel in Boston, Scientology purchased a more manageable Ideal Org building there in 2015 for $15 million. The Chicago Ideal Org has been owned by Scientology for more than a decade and is now undergoing renovations. An office park building in Columbus, Ohio was purchased in 2010 for $3.25 million. Despite foreclosure for not paying taxes, the $2.2 million New Haven Ideal Org remains in Scientology’s hands, and it paid $1.65 million for the Orlando Ideal Org building in 2016. In 2007, $7.85 million the empty Philadelphia Ideal Org building. And $3.5 million in 2007 purchased the empty Detroit Ideal Org. The Battle Creek, Michigan Ideal Org property was purchased in 2001 and still stands empty.


The planned Narconon Trout Run in Maryland was denied permission to renovate and stands empty. Scientology purchased the parcel for $4.85 million in 2013.


[Planned Albuquerque Ideal Org]

A payment of $5 million went for the Kansas City ideal org in 2007, and after a decade Scientology finally solicited bids for construction last month. This year Scientology spent $6.25 million for the planned Santa Barbara Ideal Org. Scientology still owns the Gizmo discount clothing store in downtown Albuquerque, purchased for $2.2 million in 2007. The Salt Lake City Ideal Org was purchased in 2014 and stands empty, valued at $5.4 million.


[Planned Winnipeg Ideal Org]

In Canada Scientology spent $10 million (Canadian) on the empty Winnipeg Ideal Org building in 2008, and $3.4 million on the Montreal Ideal Org in 2007. Despite not paying back taxes in Montreal, the church still owns the empty building. Scientology vacated the Toronto org in 2012 to prepare for renovations, which have never started. The building stands empty. Reports from the planned Ideal Advanced Org in Mono, Ontario are that it operates as a Continental Liaison Office, home to Sea Org members, but it has not been opened to the public for services. The compound was purchased in 2009. The announced Continental Narconon for Canada has never opened and stands empty.


[Empty Costa Rica Ideal Org]

In Latin America the empty Buenos Aires Ideal Org was purchased for $1.2 million in 2012. The Advanced Org in Mexico City was purchased in 2008 and stands empty. Attempts to renovate the facility were blocked by local officials for lack of permits. The planned Polanco Ideal Org, also in Mexico City, has not started renovations. The planned Costa Rica ideal org in San Jose stands empty after being purchased in 2015 for $4.5 million.



[Dublin Ideal Org]

In the U.K. the Birmingham Ideal Org plans to open this year. It was purchased in 2007 for £4.2 million. The Plymouth Ideal Org facility was purchased in 2009 for £1 million, Manchester in 2006 for £3.6 million, Sunderland in 2007 for £1.5 million. All three are empty. Scientology purchased the planned Dublin Ideal Org this year for €6 million. In Scientology reckoning, Ireland counts as part of the U.K. continent.


[Barcelona Ideal Org]

In Europe the planned Barcelona Ideal Org was purchased this year for €900,000. The Amsterdam Ideal Org was purchased in 2013 for €5 million. Neither is occupied.


[Planned Port Elizabeth Ideal Org]

In Africa the Joburg North Ideal Org is being renovated and should open soon. It was purchased for about 30 million Rand in 2014. The massive Port Elizabeth Ideal Org was purchased in 2008 for 8 million Rand. The Kyalami Castle was also purchased in 2008 to be an Advanced Org. These and the Ideal Org buildings in Bulawayo and Harare in Zimbabwe remain empty, At last report the Bulaweyo building is being used as a brothel. The Continental Narconon for Africa in Magaliesberg has not yet opened and remains empty.


[Perth Ideal Org]

In the ANZO continent Scientology spent $9.3 million in 2015 on a warehouse building in the Riverdale neighborhood to be the new Perth, Australia Ideal Org. Staff are in training in Los Angeles and Clearwater and they plan to open very soon. The planned Taipei Ideal Org is empty, and conflicting promotional photos may suggest they have sold one building in favor of another.

The Ideal Org and Advanced Org projects have been tremendously expensive, and would probably be a big disappointment to Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, who said in a lecture on New Year’s Eve 1960:

We own a tremendous amount of property. We own a tremendous amount of material, and so forth. And it keeps growing. But that’s not important. When buildings get important to us, for God’s sake, some of you born revolutionists, will you please blow up central headquarters. If someone had put some H.E. [high explosives] under the Vatican long ago, Catholicism might still be going. Don’t get interested in real estate. Don’t get interested in the masses of buildings, because that’s not important.

(Anatomy of the Human Mind Congress – The Genus of Scientology, 1960)

Hubbard certainly spent lavishly on himself, but claimed the money went to defend Scientology from attack, and to deliver and expand Scientology services. He wrote an article “What Your Donations Buy” in The Auditor No. 51, 1970.

So a portion of your donation is spent on patching up the damage done, keeping going in spite of attacks and nullifying the actions against the West of a very choice lot of bad hats. If we didn’t have the documentary evidence I wouldn’t dare mention it.

It costs money to bring cases up to US Supreme Court level as we have. The legal defense expense we have in a dozen countries is not small.
Small parts of your donation heal up a lot of things over the world. But the biggest part of your donation stays right in your area. It is used to make training and processing and data available to the next fellow first by keeping the church there and second by letting him know about it and third by making as sure as possible that the training and processing he gets is standard and effective.

Your donation keeps the church alive and functioning and the environment safe.

Scientology has shifted focus from charging its members for training and processing towards a donations model, and the bulk of the funds appear to be going to Ideal Orgs. Many have opened, and more are on the way. But the money locked up in buildings that remain empty for decades is astonishing.

— Rod Keller


Spotting Scientologists in the wild

We wanted to share with you a fun message we received from a reader who had that most rare of encounters — a Scientologist in the wild! The Church of Scientology claims to have as many as 20 million members, which would make them pretty ubiquitous, but worldwide membership today is actually about 20,000, and that’s why you almost never run into one. We thought this reader’s reaction was a hoot… — ed.

My husband and I … had layover [in San Francisco] where we wanted to go to Kasukabe – best Sushi in SF. We tried to get in but arrived to find they only take reservations – so we stepped around the block to catch an Uber.

All of a sudden I see these two guys crossing the street and they stand with us on this little island where we are waiting and one has on a red “Dianetics” logo shirt and the other one had on black pants and a white shirt with a black tie.

I can’t believe I am seeing someone wearing a Dianetics shirt. I blurt out, “Hey, are you guys Scientologists?”

My husband knows I am obsessed with your blog and all of the Scientology drama and thinks I’m totally joking. But these two guys say yes and start talking to me. I said, “what are you doing here in San Francisco?”

My husband is shaking his head in total disbelief. They looked at me very puzzled with the question and pointed behind me and I turned around and I was standing right in front of the Scientology building in San Francisco!

I literally starting bending over laughing so hard that they could not understand why and I screamed at my hubby – “take a pic, take a pic of this.” I was so caught off guard but it was so funny …and I started to ask some questions.

Are you on the Bridge? The one guys eyes opened up. What OT level are you? My husband is *seriously* not believing this.

The guy tells me OT 7. I said, you look awfully young to be an OT 7. How are you paying for all of this? Then I said to him, “When are OT 9 and 10 coming, they seem to be delayed?

“Soon” he says, looking so eager. He was completely puzzled – maybe thinking this must be some kind of test of him outside of the org. Why I would not know I standing in front of a Scientology building while knowing so much about it?

How long have you been in the org, I asked? Are you a second generation Scientologist? This guy tells me he found Scientology when he was 20. He might have been 34 at best. He told me that he wanted to be a professional skateboarder but found Scientology.

So we talked a little bit about skateboarding. I asked him if he was still skateboarding and was he making money at it, was he a pro skateboarder? He didn’t really answer.

The next thing I know my husband is signaling me to get into the Uber. As we drove off, I realize that I didn’t have the presence of mind to see this poor guy was a Sea Org member based on the way he was dressed. Those dreams of skateboarding long gone now for $50 a week.

Anyhow, funny way to start a vacation – wonder if I will see them in Dublin!

— A reader

Anyone recognize the skateboarder/staffer?



Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 4,876 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 22 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,085 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 1,859 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,633 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 1,979 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,473 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,513 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,225 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 751 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 4,840 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 1,980 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,300 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,275 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 631 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 4,933 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,040 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis for 1,442 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,315 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 896 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,401 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,645 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,754 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on September 17, 2017 at 07:00

E-mail tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2016 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Undergound Bunker (2012-2016), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts

Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield


Share Button
Print Friendly, PDF & Email