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Scientologists leave buyers at the altar again

Title: Scientologists leave buyers at the altar again
Date: Saturday, 29 November 2008
Publisher: The Age (Australia)
Author: Marc Pallisco
Main source:

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PROSPECTIVE purchasers and commercial real estate agents were left standing at the altar again this week, after the Church of Scientology abandoned the sale of its city headquarters, just hours before a scheduled auction.

The church blamed planning delays, and other issues concerning the development of its new headquarters, as the reason it cannot vacate its four- level Melbourne home of almost 30 years.

This excuse was cold comfort for the dozens of investors who had shown an interest in the 42-44 Russell Street building, many who had flown from interstate to bid, sources say.

Colliers International agents Matt Stagg and Pat Burke were apologetic, and left to deal with prospective buyers the agency could not contact by phone or email, before the 1pm Thursday auction.

The agents said the campaign generated excellent interest from a wide range of buyers. The property was expected to sell for about $ 8 million, possibly more since the luxurious Grand Hyatt Melbourne hotel was reopened next door, after a $ 40 million renovation.

The church says it is will remarket its outgoing Russell Street property, once issues with its Ascot Vale property are resolved, most likely next year. The church plans to move to the former Sisters of Mercy College in Mount Alexander Road, which it has been refurbishing.

The church left commercial real estate agency DTZ with a congregation of angry prospective purchasers after similarly withdrawing the property from sale before a scheduled auction in October 2005.

[Picture / Caption: Faces of Scientology: Kirsty Alley, John Travolta and Kelly Pearson. Investors are not so happy.]