Author Topic: Scientologists to pay $6.7 million for Pinellas-owned properties -  (Read 644 times)

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Scientologists to pay $6.7 million for Pinellas-owned properties -
24 May 2011, 7:48 pm

CLEARWATER — The Church of Scientology will expand its footprint in downtown Clearwater after Pinellas County commissioners voted 6-0 Tuesday to sell about 2 acres of county property there.

The county's parcels are vacant or being phased out as part of downsizing and budget cuts. The church, whose growth downtown has miffed some critics, was the sole bidder, agreeing to pay $6.7 million.

"I support the sale — I think it's a great price," County Commissioner Ken Welch said.

The only hint of heartburn over the $6.7 million sale to the church Tuesday came from Commissioner Neil Brickfield. Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard complained last week the city wasn't notified of the decision to sell to the church.

"I felt bad," Brickfield said of reading Hibbard's comments in the Times.

Two of the five buildings are offices for the county's environmental management department, which is being dismantled and shifted into public works offices elsewhere. The other three parcels are vacant, including a former gas station.

The properties are:

• 300 S Garden Ave., an environmental management office just south of Scientology's Flag Building.

• 300 S Fort Harrison Ave., a former service station being used for storage just south of the Fort Harrison Hotel.

• 305 and 311 S Osceola Ave., two vacant houses just north of the County Courthouse.

• 512 S Fort Harrison Ave., an environmental management office south of the courthouse.

No Scientology officials spoke during the commission's brief discussion Tuesday. In recent statements to the Times, church spokeswoman Pat Harney said the church plans to soon build a 3,500-seat auditorium next to the property at 300 S Garden. That parcel also borders Court Street and Fort Harrison Avenue.

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« Last Edit: May 25, 2011, 21:55 by mefree »
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