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Church of Scientology “disconnects” with Coral Gables location for $6M

Buyer plans restaurant/retail project
By Katherine Kallergis | May 30, 2017 05:30PM

Church of Scientology building at 120 Giralda Avenue. Inset: Scientology chairman of the board David Miscavige (Credit: Getty Images)

After about three years on the market, the Church of Scientology has cut ties with its Coral Gables location of more than 40 years and sold the building for $5.8 million, or nearly $360 per square foot.

The buyer is 120 Giralda LLC, according to a press release. The entity is controlled by Marc and Barry Schwarzberg of Boca Raton. Patrick Kelly of RESF, who represented the buyers, said they mostly invest in multifamily properties in Broward County and in Coral Gables. For now, he said the plan is to convert the office building into restaurant/retail space. Kelly declined to identify the buyers of the all-cash deal.

The building, which housed the original Coral Gables Post Office, is on “Restaurant Row” at 120 Giralda Avenue. It was on the market for $5.7 million, and received multiple offers, but didn’t sell until the controversial church moved into its newly built out location at 2200 South Dixie Highway. The terms of the deal were that a buyer would let the church stay in its Coral Gables building rent-free until the other building was ready, broker Danny Zelonker confirmed. “And that’s why it was on the market for three years,” Zelonker said.

Zelonker and Isabel Fine of Real Miami Commercial Real Estate represented New York-based broker Doug Furer of Mariner Real Estate Services on behalf of the Church of Scientology in the $5.8 million deal, which closed on Friday.

The 16,200-square-foot building sits on a 19,100 square foot lot, which includes a vacant parking lot south of the building. It was built in 1947. Property records show the building last sold for $425,000 in 1976.

Current zoning allows for about 54,000 square feet of development without bonuses, Zelonker said.

Once the church moved into the building on South Dixie Highway, the Coral Gables property landed multiple offers, including from Michael Comras and a couple of real estate investment trusts out of New York, Zelonker said. The asking price was $5.7 million, which means it sold for slightly more. Kelly joked that the the bidding process was a “bloodbath.”

Giralda Avenue’s Restaurant Row is in the midst of a major streetscape improvement project, which is slated to be completed next month. Among the improvements are closing the street off to cars and adding outdoor dining. Restaurants already on the avenue include Talavera Cocinera Mexicana, the Local Craft Food & Drink and Threefold Cafe.

Recent sales on Giralda Avenue have fetched prices as high as $660 per square foot, brokers said.