SACRAMENTO (CBS13) -
The streets around the new Church of Scientology building at the corner of J and 6th streets were shut down with Sacramento police directing traffic. A massive privacy fence blocked the view of any onlookers interested in watching the Grand Opening Ribbon Cutting ceremony.
"We're very, very excited," said church member Gail Gallegos. "We're expanding into our new building."
The church, which follows the teachings of writer L Ronn Hubbard, writing what was likely a large check to shut down J Street. They say the move was necessary to maintain their privacy and give them room while celebrating their opening of the 57,000 square foot, 7-story building which was formally the Ramona Hotel.
The church estimates more than 2,500 people attended the ceremony including Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson; California State Assembly Member Mike Gatto; Greater Sacramento Urban League president David DeLuz; Interfaith Council of Greater Sacramento president Jon Fish; and International Faith-Based Council president and founder Bishop Ron Allen.
"It's a building that will help us revitalize this downtown area. The Church of Scientology came to us and said, 'Look, we want to help. We want to take a historic building and preserve it and renovate it and make it a masterpiece for the downtown area showcase'," said Mayor Johnson during his address at the ceremony.
Many residents and businesses in the downtown area are hoping the new church and its parishioners will give the area a boost.
"Having them move in here at this time, it's great," said Cilantro's Mexican Restaurant owner Hugo Cervantes.
Cilantro's is a block away from the new church. Cervantes admits doing business in downtown can be challenging and he's hopeful the church will bring customers his way.
"It's only going to be good. It's way more than what we have right now," said Cervantes. "We're excited. We're happy."
Church officials say the project took about eight years to complete.
"The downtown area is important and we're very excited to be a part of it right here on J street," said Gallegos.
for more features.