PHILADELPHIA-The Church of Scientology of Pennsylvania has acquired the 15-story Cunningham Building and adjacent one-story former toy store spanning 1312-1316 Chestnut St. for slightly less than $8 million, or nearly $127 per sf. It plans a major redevelopment of the two currently vacant buildings before relocating from its existing headquarters at 1315 Race St.

The seller is New York City-based Goldman Properties. According to public records, Goldman acquired the 61,000-sf Cunningham Building in August 2001 for just shy of $2.5 million and the adjacent 2,000-sf retail store in August 2005 for $900,000.

Jonathan Stavin, first VP in the local office of CB Richard Ellis, represented both Goldman and the Church of Scientology in the transaction. He tells that Goldman had gutted the buildings in preparation for converting them into residential condos. “As the condo market softened,” he says, “the owner felt this sale would be good for this portion of Chestnut Street where it owns considerable retail real estate.”

As previously reported, Goldman is in the process of converting the five-story White Building at the corner of 12th and Chestnut streets into 24 condos. Among its other holdings in this area east of Broad Street are buildings containing four home fashion stores and three restaurants, including Lolita and El Vez.

“There was tremendous interest in this property from both developers and users,” Stavin says. “The Church of Scientology was able to react quickly and close on the deal because they had been looking for a property for several years.” He says the church plans to create a center what will include an academy, chapel, offices and church community programs along with ground-floor retail, and it anticipates tripling is current staff of 35, once the renovation is complete. The cost of the renovation and date of completion is not yet finalized.

In addition, the church plans to be open after usual office hours to enable its workers and members to frequent local retailers, which was a concern of Goldman’s in selling what Stavin calls “two of the most attractive retail spaces along this block. This new project that will help solidify the 1300 block of Chestnut as both an attractive office and retail address,” he notes.

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Once you are an ALM digital member, you’ll receive:

  • Unlimited access to GlobeSt and other free ALM publications
  • Access to 15 years of GlobeSt archives
  • Your choice of GlobeSt digital newsletters and over 70 others from popular sister publications
  • 1 free article* every 30 days across the ALM subscription network
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM events and publications

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?


© 2024 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.


Join GlobeSt

Don't miss crucial news and insights you need to make informed commercial real estate decisions. Join now!

  • Free unlimited access to's trusted and independent team of experts who provide commercial real estate owners, investors, developers, brokers and finance professionals with comprehensive coverage, analysis and best practices necessary to innovate and build business.
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM and GlobeSt events.
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including and

Already have an account? Sign In Now
Join GlobeSt

Copyright © 2024 ALM Global, LLC. All Rights Reserved.