Chestnut Street’s PMC Group Building is still Scientology’s

Charles Mostoller

It’s become almost as easily ignorable on Chestnut Street as the transients and vagabonds that roam the downtown corridors, but the vacant PMC Group Building just west of 13th Street is still owned by the Philadelphia Church of Scientology.

On one side is the Bru craft beer bar – on the other, the Luxe home furnishings store – both relatively new to the popular and bubbly Midtown Village neighborhood. But the aging PMC Group Building remains untouched.

Now, here’s an update.

In July of last year, the Philadelphia Church of Scientology, property owners of the PMC Group Building, came into compliance with a fire code regulation after they were cited with a violation issued by the Department of Licenses and Inspections in 2014. Currently, there are no open citations on the building. Yet, it remains vacant.

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L&I officials said Tuesday that a lawsuit stemming from a “doors and windows” violation from 2013 – a crackdown issued to battle blight in neighborhoods – was discontinued. While the suit was pending, the property owner brought the building into compliance. (When there is no longer a violation, the property owner can’t be prosecuted.)

Passersby no longer look in the windows and glass doors, which have been covered up by wide ribbons of brown paper for years now. But the (minimum) 15-story tower still seems rife with potential for new life.

Karen Guss, a spokeswoman for L&I, said that no permits for construction have been issued on the PMC Group building.

Maryann Conte, a spokeswoman for Philadelphia’s Church of Scientology, said that the church ministers to parishioners in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, which makes up about 10,000 scientologists in the region, with several hundred in Philadelphia proper.

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Philly’s scientology church home based is located at 1315 Race Street. As for the PMC Group Building, Conte said it is “still in the planning stages.”

“Due to both its size and historic nature, great care has gone into design and planning to restore the building,” Conte wrote in an e-mail.

“When it is ultimately completed, the finished property will greatly enhance the neighborhood.This church is part of the Church of Scientology’s ongoing effort to establish new scientology churches in major cities and cultural centers all over the world.”

Here’s a list of some famous scientologists – Kirstie Alley, Catherine Bell, Tom Cruise, Juliette Lewis, Jason Lee, John Travolta, Beck, Greta Van Susteren, Ruddy Rodriguez, Jenna Elfman, Elizabeth Moss, Anne Archer, Priscilla Presley, and Philly’s own Fresh Prince – Will Smith – is also rumored to be a scientologist.

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