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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Inside Scientology's Super Power Building... where worshippers of the controversial religion will be told they can become superhuman

$90m centre due to open in Florida before end of year

By Daniel Miller

Spin doctors: Scientology's new training centre boasts an antigravity simulator - a gyroscope that spins trainees around while blindfolded to boost their powers

These space-age images show the inside of the Church of Scientology's new $90m (£57m) training centre where devotees of the controversial religion will be told they can develop superhuman abilities.

The Super Power Building in Clearwater, Florida, is due to finally open later this year after being beset by a long series of delays, which saw construction halt and costs spiral.

The imposing structure, a bizarre cross between a Mediterranean-style hotel and the Starship Enterprise, boasts 889 rooms, an indoor running track and Nasa-style training equipment to help worshippers boost their 'theta' power.

Space age: The $90m building is set to finally open this year after a long series of costly delays

Modern: The building contains 889 rooms and has an indoor running track on the sixth floor

The building contains specially-developed equipment, which the church claims,'expands on the technology developed by Nasa to train astronauts'.

Among the most bizarre contraptions is the antigravity simulator - a gyroscope that spins a person around while blindfolded to improve their perception of compass direction.

Trainees will also be instructed to watch a special video screen that moves back and forth while flashing images to hone their abilities to identify subliminal messages.

It is not yet known how much super power training will cost. Some higher-level Scientology training courses are priced in tens of thousands of dollars.

The images, which were leaked on to the web, are believed to show artists' impressions of what the building will look like.

The project, which had an original budget of $24m (£15m), was stopped in 2003 after costs more than doubled because of rises in the price of steel and labour.

But after a major appeal to their members, which include celebrities Tom Cruise, John Travolta and Kirstie Alley, it was back on track and is due to be competed this year.

Actress Alley is described as a 'founding member' of the project and is reported to have made a donation of around $250,000 (£160,000).

But the delays prompted Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard to describe the building as 'an eyesore, surrounded by dirt and chain-link fence'.

The city's code enforcement board ordered the exterior, including landscaping and sidewalks had to be completed by early summer 2006.

But the work wasn't finished meaning the Scientologists were slapped with a series of $250 dollar fines, which by the end of 2006 had totaled more than $40,000 (£25,000).

Exterior: The imposing 'Mediterranean Revival-style' building takes up an entire city block

Grandiose: The main hall boasts tons of marble and sculptures depicting the various aspects of Scientology

Pampered clients: The celebrity audit room is reserved for the religion's VIP clients

The church had announced the building would be ready for occupancy by late 2010, but no additional work took place.

Then, in June this year, it was reported that it had passed inspection and a Certificate of Occupancy had been obtained.

Visitors will be greeted by an imposing main lobby lined with austere bronze sculptures depicting various aspects of Scientology.

There are two museums: one in honour of the Scientologists' Sea Org association and another dedicated to the religion's founder, L. Ron Hubbard.

The sixth floor houses a full-size indoor running track and the complex also features dozens of audit rooms where Scientologists can test their abilities.

There is even a special VIP audit room reserved for rich donors and the religion's highly-prized celebrity devotees.

The building, which has been described as 'Mediterranean revival-style', also boasts a bookstore and a library as well as hundreds of course and study rooms.

It has a total of 447 windows and 42 bathrooms, plus a 1,140-seat dining room and two kitchens.

There is a bridge conveniently connecting the building to the Scientology-owned Fort Harrison Hotel on the other side of the street.

Hot air: Towels are neatly laid out in one of the centre's immaculate new changing rooms

Al-fresco: Trainees will be able to wind down by relaxing on the centre's impressive outdoor terrace

Devotees: Tom Cruise opens a Church of Scientology in Madrid, Spain, while John Travolta and his wife Kelly Preston are both committed members



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