Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Clearwater City Council votes tonight on buying land eyed by Church of Scientology

A view looking east along Pierce Street on Clearwater's downtown bluff. At right is a grassy parcel owned by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and coveted by both the city of Clearwater and the Church of Scientology. The City Council will vote Thursday on whether to purchase the land from the aquarium for $4.25 million. The aquarium has rejected the church's $15 million offer. [JIM DAMASKE | Times]

A view looking east along Pierce Street on Clearwater's downtown bluff. At right is a grassy parcel owned by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and coveted by both the city of Clearwater and the Church of Scientology. The City Council will vote Thursday on whether to purchase the land from the aquarium for $4.25 million. The aquarium has rejected the church's $15 million offer. [JIM DAMASKE | Times]

CLEARWATER — The City Council will vote today on whether to purchase a 1.4 acre vacant lot from the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, which the Church of Scientology is also lobbying to buy.

Scientology leader David Miscavige's promise to revitalize downtown with infrastructure improvements, retail recruitment and an entertainment complex with actor Tom Cruise is contingent on the church's ability to buy the aquarium land, according to spokesman Ben Shaw.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Church of Scientology ups bid for Clearwater Marine Aquarium land to $15 million

City staff is recommending the council buy the lot, which is across the street from City Hall at the corner of Pierce Street and Osceola Avenue, to redevelop the parcels into a hotel, condo, retail or other uses. Staff says improving the Osceola Avenue artery into downtown is a feature of the city's 10-year, $55 million overhaul of the nearby waterfront and Coachman Park.

The church wants the property, which borders its Oak Cove religious retreat and is across the street from its landmark Fort Harrison Hotel, to build a swimming pool, playground and other accommodations for parishioners, Shaw said.

EDITORIAL: Clearwater City Council should stand up to Church of Scientology

Miscavige has not released details of his retail plan to the public but has showed it to council members in individual meetings March 14. He also presented it to about 70 hand-selected downtown stakeholders and parishioners at a private meeting last week.

The aquarium rejected the church's $15 million offer for the land earlier this month in favor of allowing the city to vote on a $4.25 million contract.

The council will discuss the issue at its regular meeting tonight, beginning at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 112 S Osceola Ave.

This is a developing story. Check back with tampabay.com for a complete report.

Contact Tracey McManus at tmcmanus@tampabay.com or (727) 445-4151. Follow @TroMcManus.

Clearwater City Council votes tonight on buying land eyed by Church of Scientology 04/20/17 [Last modified: Thursday, April 20, 2017 8:46am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Wing of Channelside Bay Plaza being demolished to make way for Water Street Tampa

    Business

    TAMPA — The developers of Channelside Bay Plaza originally wanted the name to include "Garrison." That would have fit, in a way, because the complex turned out to be fort-like, inwardly focused and unwelcoming.

    Demolition of the southwest wing of Channelside Bay Plaza is underway, with a big chunk of the building expected to come down today.
  2. City Council candidates weigh in on noise ordinances, pier reconstruction

    Local

    ST. PETERSBURG — Residents of Bayfront Tower Condos peppered City Council candidates Tuesday night with questions about noise ordinances, road repairs and the multi-million-dollar plan to rebuild the pier.

  3. What you need to know for Wednesday, Oct. 18

    News

    Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today

    Twenty years after it opened, part of Channelside Bay Plaza will get demolished, with a big chunk coming down today. [Luis Santana | Times (2010)]
  4. Can you eat a jack-o'-lantern? And other thoughts on cooking with whole pumpkins

    Cooking

    The pumpkin is sweating, and so am I.

    I've got my knife an inch into the watermelon-sized orb, which is staring at me all like, "I'm too cute to be dinner!"

    Pumpkin with farro, cranberries and walnuts is good hot or cold.
  5. St. Petersburg City Council candidates share some political views, disagree on fundraising

    Local

    ST. PETERSBURG — Two first-time candidates aim to replace Jim Kennedy as the District 2 representative on the City Council.

    St. Petersburg City Council candidates (from left)  Brandi Gabbard and Barclay Harless, who are running for the District 2 seat. They appeared at Monday night's forum at City Hall sponsored by the League of Women Voters. [CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times]