alibi online
Free Will AstrologyAlibi's Personals
 
 V.16 No.38 | September 20 - 26, 2007 

Newscity

Scientology Moves In Downtown

Church plans renovation of four-story, 50,000-square-foot building

The night clubs, shops and lunch spots of downtown Albuquerque are about to get a new neighbor. The Church of Scientology is in the process of purchasing the Gizmo's building at 410 Central SE near Fourth Street, says Gabriel Rivera, a redevelopment planner with City Planning. "From what I've heard, in other places and other cities, [Scientologists] usually locate in the Downtown areas," Rivera says. Local Scientologists confirmed the deal.

Plans for the church are extensive, says Beth Akiyama, director of special affairs with the Church of Scientology of New Mexico. In the rendering, a glass-fronted four-story brick building towers over its neighbors, the Kress building and the Central Market. It will include a bookstore at street level.

The controversial religion (many call it a cult) is most widely known for big-name followers like Tom Cruise and Beck and was founded by pulp fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard. There is only one Scientology church in New Mexico at 1319 San Pedro near Lomas. That congregation is moving from its more suburban setting to the 50,000-square-foot space on Central. "Churches of Scientology in major cities around the world are expanding and moving into new, larger buildings that they fully renovate to meet the rapid growth of the church," wrote Akiyama in a news release.

There are several hundred members of the Albuquerque congregation, says Akiyama, and people come in from all over the state. She's not concerned about parking. "We don't necessarily have the hundreds of people coming Sunday morning. They come throughout the week." The church is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Scientology has been in Albuquerque since 1970. "We like the vibrancy of Downtown, and we just want to be part of that scene and help to make it bigger and more exciting," Akiyama says. It's difficult to pin down when the church will be up and running, she adds. "It's hard to predict," she says. "We'll probably have purchased the building very soon, and then we'll have an extensive renovation."

The Downtown area is a special district zoned for arts and entertainment, says Rivera with City Planning. This allows in-house consumption of alcohol. That designation won't change even though a church is moving in. "Present bars or future bars all have that ability to use whatever building space for arts and entertainment, to be a bar or a restaurant," he says.

However, when a church goes into an area, new businesses are subject to state ordinance. When a place that's going to sell alcohol wants to enter the district, the state has to notify the church, a hearing has to be held and the state has to issue a waiver for that new business. "You wouldn't be able to keep that new one from coming in because it's already been established as an arts and entertainment district," Rivera says.

Akiyama says the church has no intention of cramping the style of Downtown establishments. "We're there to be part of the community. And if other restaurants or things are moving in and want to serve alcohol, we have no problem with that."

 
Join our mailing list for exclusive info, the week's events and free stuff!
 

  • Select sidebar boxes to add below. You can also click and drag to rearrange the boxes; close using the little X icons on each box. To re-add a box you closed, return to this menu.
  • Because you are not logged in, any changes you make to these boxes will vanish as soon as you click to another page. If you log in, the boxes will stick.
  • alibi.com
  • Latest Posts
  • Web Exclusives
  • Recent Rocksquawk Discussions
  • Recent Classifieds
  • Latest User Posts
  • Most Active Users
  • Most Active Stories
  • Calendar Comments
  • Upcoming Alibi Picks
  • Albuquerque
  • Duke City Fix
  • Albuquerque Beer Scene
  • What's Wrong With This Picture?
  • Reddit Albuquerque
  • ABQ Journal Metro
  • ABQrising
  • ABQ Journal Latest News
  • Del.icio.us Albuquerque
  • NM and the West
  • New Mexico FBIHOP
  • Democracy for New Mexico
  • Only in New Mexico
  • Mario Burgos
  • Democracy for New Mexico
  • High Country News
  • El Grito
  • NM Politics with Joe Monahan
  • Stephen W. Terrell's Web Log
  • The Net Is Vast and Infinite
  • Slashdot
  • Freedom to Tinker
  • Is there a feed that should be on this list? Tell us about it.
    YOU / ABANDONED MANSIONS
    YOU / ABANDONED MANSIONS10.31.2014