A building in Westville will soon get a new facade.
The Church of Scientology plans on renovating the building and moving in.
Economic development officer Kathleen Krolak said, “Scientology has owned it for a dozen years or so and they were talking about renovating it and they have gone through site plan approval to renovate the building.”
The Church of Scientology leased a building up the street while they collected enough donations to revamp 949 Whalley Avenue.
The city is pleased the building will have some kind of use.
Krolak told News 8, “It’s an important building architecturally. It is a landmark. It has some very distinct qualities to it everyone appreciates, so to have it be renovated to its original historic luster is very important to us.”
The Church of Scientology has owned the building for years, but it has been vacant. Alderman Richard Furlow said they never maintained the vacant building and he has other concerns.
Furlow added, “I think there is still a question of what impact a church will have in the area. I’m surprised this was passed by city plan without details of membership and programming which seems to be the standard questions for a church. Additionally, I am concerned about maintenance and upkeep which they have not been able to manage although they are headquartered just up the street.”
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The church will have its own parking lot, but business owners say it’s small space and not enough.
Chris Gaudreau said, “Well, parking is huge. If this is going to be a church-like atmosphere, there’s definitely not enough parking for the church and the Westville customers.” Pat Sabatasso added, “If they are a church, they should be zoned to have enough parking spaces for meetings. So, I don’t know what the zoning is, but they really don’t have enough parking when they have their eastern conferences.”
Furlow told News 8, “Hopefully, they will honor their commitment and do the renovations they have been approved for and maintain the property in a fashion that is worthy of our Westville historic district.”
Sabatasso added, “I would like to see the building have some life to it and filled and renovated.”