Scientology, city vie for lot in downtown Clearwater

The Church of Scientology offered $15 million, and the city may offer only $4.25 million

Apr.April 09, 2017 09:00 AM

The lot at the southwest corner of Osceola Avenue and Pierce Street in downtown Clearwater.
(Source:Tampa Bay Times)

The Church of Scientology is trying to outbid the city government for a 1.4-acre lot in downtown Clearwater.

The church has offered $15 million to buy the lot from its owner, Clearwater Marina Aquarium, also known as CMA.

It is the highest of several offers the church has made for the vacant downtown lot adjacent to Oak Cove, the church’s 13-story religious retreat in Clearwater. The city also is the home of Scientology’s international headquarters.

The Clearwater city government is considering a plan to pay $4.25 million for the lot at the southwest corner of Osceola Avenue and Pierce Street as part of a broader downtown revitalization plan.

David Yates, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium’s chief executive officer, told the Tampa Bay Times that his non-profit organization is committed to selling the lot to the city.

The city council will vote April 20 whether to close the city’s $4.25 million bid to buy the lot.

The Clearwater aquarium has an ongoing fundraising campaign to pay for a $50 million overhaul of its aging facility on Island Estates. The aquarium rescues, rehabilitates and exhibits marine life.

Ben Shaw, a spokesman for the Church of Scientology, told the Times that “the church obviously cannot compete with this inappropriately intimate relationship between the city and CMA and will not be making any further offers.”

The New York Post reported in December that actor Tom Cruise will move to Clearwater to expand the following of the Church of Scientology.  [Tampa Bay Times] Mike Seemuth

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