Church of Scientology buys former science museum site

St. Paul Twin City Pioneer Press/June 14, 2007
By Gita Sitaramiah

The Church of Scientology has purchased the former Science Museum of Minnesota building in downtown St. Paul

Eric Rapp, a Welsh Cos. broker who marketed the space, said the church plans a major renovation of the building that once housed exhibits and has since been the home of the failed Minnesota Business Academy.

Rapp wouldn't disclose the sale price of the 80,000-square-foot west building of the former museum complex. The sale closed Friday. A number of financial institutions had come to own the building, which was on the market since May 2006, he said.

Renovations also are planned for the attached Gallery medical building. "That block will be a bright spot for St. Paul in an otherwise slow market," Rapp said.

The Church of Scientology also has a branch on Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis, though that space is much smaller than the future St. Paul location, he said.

American science fiction author L. Ron Hubbard created the body of knowledge that's behind Scientology. "Scientology is the study and handling of the spirit in relationship to itself, others and all of life," according to the Church of Scientology Web site. Scientology is notable also for movie star adherents such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta.

In 1999, the Science Museum moved to a new riverfront building on Kellogg Boulevard. The Minnesota Business Academy occupied the building until it closed last year.

The academy defaulted on bond payments earlier this year. The charter school sold $6.6 million of tax-exempt bonds in 2005 to refinance loans for buying and renovating the school's building.

Music Tech is located in the east building of the former museum complex, across Wabasha Street from the site the Church of Scientology has purchased.

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