NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro speaks with reporter Tracey McManus. They doubled the churchs footprint in less than three years. russia and china vs nato war who would win. The Church has not revealed any motive behind their domination of downtown Clearwater. Church of Scientology campus in Clearwater, Fla. mokee81/iStock The Church of Scientology, its members and companies controlled by its members have spent $103 million over the past three. But in the 70s, Andrus was named an unindicted co-conspirator in Scientologys government espionage scheme, which sent 11 Scientologists to federal prison. Since July 2019, eight limited liability companies managed or operated by members of the church have bought 45 properties in North Marina, including Chesneys. Ever since Ive been here, and ever since Ive dealt with Scientology officials, I have heard the leaders articulate that they want to see a vibrant downtown, Horne said. Flag is what they call it, and it's the international spiritual headquarters of the church. Your email address will not be published. His partner is Scientologist Maria Dolores Gregori Fuster. Since arriving in Clearwater in 1975, the Church of Scientology has bought 60 properties in Pinellas County under its name: 58 are in the city of Clearwater and 49 are downtown. The analysis did not include residential parcels except in cases where they were bought in conjunction with commercial property or vacant land. Did you check your W-2? In a letter to the Times, the church denied it ever tried to take control of the city. I mean, how big is the Church of Scientology where you are? The more its isolated and doesnt have people who are non-Scientologists around the area, the better.. In 1975, Scientology creator L. Ron Hubbard bought a historic hotel in downtown Clearwater. The pattern of Scientology-tied companies buying so many properties and sitting on them flies in the face of most land economics, said Tobias, who has been appraising property in Pinellas County for 50 years. Ron DeSantis on Monday undid a looming $1.2 billion tax hike on Central Florida residents that he inadvertently imposed a year ago in a hastily passed bill meant to punish Walt Disney Co. for criticizing his so-called "Don't Say Gay" law. Critics of the church say that the Scientology bought the downtown properties to keep the public at bay. Since it was founded in 1955, Scientology has purchased hundreds, possibly thousands of buildings. This makes no sense, except of course to a bigot.. Nearly all of the properties were bought through limited liability companies, which are required to disclose their operators but not their owners. June 22, 2022; Posted by . The reason lies in rising tensions between the church and the Clearwater City Council. Tom De Vocht, a former Scientology executive who oversaw the churchs property in Clearwater from 1996 to 2001, said he believes Scientology is responding to the citys efforts by creating a buffer to keep the public away. is saying oh my goodness a sin in islam. But Lee assumed the church was involved. 'Typically, when people buy commercial real estate, they move forward with construction or redevelopment. Not so shipshape! Llmenos para una consulta. The family of Moises Agami, a developer whose companies bought 20 storefronts and a parking lot last year, has donated at least $10 million. How Boris Johnson's Partygate tormentor Sue Gray is now enmeshed in her own row - as it is DAN HODGES: This grubby Sue Gray recruitment annihilates all pretence that Sir Keir Starmer is a man of 'He was a natural leader': Mourners gather for the funeral of Thai cave survivor who died aged 17 after 'You'll be missed forever': Elizabeth Hurley and son Damian share heartfelt tribute to her late ex Shane Mamma Mia! Clarion Inn & Suites Central Clearwater Beach has an outdoor swimming pool, fitness center, a restaurant and bar in Clearwater. This one is owned by a parishioner who had been featured on the churchs Meet a Scientologist video series. Agami also signed two more leases on the same block with restaurants owned by people not connected to the church. Help us keep bringing stories like this to you. Scientology proposed a major redevelopment project meant to lure in new business to the empty stores in the citys waterfront area and near the churchs headquarters, but the council interfered, botching plans for a land deal that the church wanted for its expansion plan. I think it's comparable to say it's kind of, like, if there were to be a Vatican reporter in Vatican City. Looking at the Times map of the new ownership, City Council member David Allbritton recalled a moment from 2017 that now seems telling. None of the other parishioners whose companies bought property since 2017 responded to questions about their plans. The city has no record yet of redevelopment plans being submitted for any of the North Marina properties since the purchases began, according to planning and development director Gina Clayton. Please consider supporting us with a tax-deductible donation to the Tampa Bay Times Investigative Fund. The Times used the date that transactions were recorded in Clerk of Courts official record as the date of sale. Facebook. He called the Tampa Bay Times questions about parishioners activity not just stupid, false and offensive, but un-American., You talk out of both sides of your mouth: If redevelopment is being done by the city or a member of another religion, not Scientology, it is good; if redevelopment is being done by a Scientologist, it is bad, Shaw said. What you know is what you know and to have the courage to know and say what you have observed".- LRH from Personal Integrity, "It is necessary to happiness of man, that he be mentally faithful to himself. City officials say their dedication to redeveloping the waterfront hasnt changed. Visitors walk through downtown on a Friday. Fischler did not respond to phone messages, a certified letter or a note left at her condo. If people all over the world would do this, it would change the earth." Many of the properties werent on the market. They have control over what businesses, if any, come in. Karl Heinz Riedl, ("Chef Karl"), is the co-owner of Bon Appetit Group. Visit hotel website. While theres no law against hanging onto property, developers typically buy land, build on it and sell it for profit. Then the council interfered with a land deal that Scientology demanded for its plan. The Fort Harrison Hotel is located steps from Clearwater City Hall, close to the downtown waterfront area,. This gallery shows all 60 properties Scientology owns under its name in Pinellas county and six additional retail properties the church acquired through limited liability companies in 2017. I believe its irrational to buy property and not fully utilize it.. [ The full history: Scientologys 40 years of conflict with the City of Clearwater, recapped ]. The church promised to spend $55 million. Companies tied to the Church of Scientology paid millions in cash for 45 properties near downtown with no major plans in sight. Run away!!! A lot of them are vacant lots, vacant buildings, empty storefronts. But far more non-Scientologists are moving out. Buy up as much property as they can for the church whether they use it or not, whether they let it sit there and rot so no one else can be there,'Tom De Vocht, a former Scientology executive who oversaw the churchs property in Clearwater from 1996 to 2001, said. Andrus did not respond to an email, phone message, a note left at his office or a certified letter. Clearwater is home to one of the Church's most important bases, a campus called Flag (above), which Scientologists across the globe make pilgrimages to. I really appreciate you all giving up your time to, Mike was probably getting a slew of YSCOHB texts from DM. On Sept. 7, Epsteins employee was removed from the corporate filings of the company that own the land. The Tampa Bay Times reported that the church, including members and employees, now own 185 properties that encompass more than 101 acres in downtown Clearwater, located west of Tampa and sitting. The Church takes seriously its responsibility and interest in the future of the area. Hi, this is Stu, KnowBe4's CEO. And the properties cover about 100 acres. 20, 2019. Seventy-three percent of the property is tax-exempt for religious purposes. The Mission: Impossible - Fallout star plans to call an elaborate penthouse, complete with a private swimming pool and garden, his new home. New details about the case of Lisa McPherson, who died in the care of Scientologists, from the executive who directed the Church of Scientologys handling of the case. It has terrorized defectors with private investigators, smear campaigns and relentless litigation. Thank you very much. Its members bought property on surrounding blocks. GARCIA-NAVARRO: It's the type of servitude. Fuster and Ozsan go back a long way to Altea Real Property Ltd. in London. Most of the sales have not previously been reported. But even when the church isnt in control, its presence can deter development. After FBI raids uncovered the infiltrations, city officials launched their own investigations. Agami, the developer whose family gave $10 million, leased a storefront to a non-Scientologist that has become a successful restaurant since opening in 2017. But the couple isnt ready to let go. The most recent deal came when a New York firm bought a former demolition yard on Nicholson Street for $593,400 on Oct. 20 and then flipped it two days later for $1 million in cash to one of the Scientology-tied limited liability companies, according to property records. by. But thats not important. Each had proposed major redevelopment projects, designed to lure new business into the empty storefronts that surround the city-owned waterfront and the churchs spiritual headquarters. Thomas Paine, Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. - Martin Luther King, The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. - Martin Luther King. According to court records, Andrus accompanied two guards as they handcuffed and gagged the man, dragged him into a car and drove him to a hideout, where he was held for a month before escaping. Block after block, vacant lots sit untouched, and storefronts remain empty: A former jewelry store. wolf trace homes for sale; Real estate agent Daphna Fischler brokered at least 10 downtown sales on behalf of seven buyers. Best Clearwater hotels Most recommended Clearwater hotels Clearwater Inn $27+ Free Wi-Fi Sonesta Simply Suites Clearwater 8.1 Very good $157+ Parking Free Wi-Fi Pool Pet friendly Courtyard St. Petersburg Clearwater 8.9 Very good $340+ Parking Airport shuttle Free Wi-Fi Pool Extended Stay America Suites - St Petersburg - Clearwater - Executive Dr After a workout in our fitness center, begin your morning with our free hot breakfast, free hot coffee and free weekday newspaper in our . Times Staff WritersOct. Murdaugh is heckled as he leaves court, Missing hiker buried under snow forces arm out to wave to helicopter, Ukraine soldiers shoot down enemy drones with drones of their own, Fleet-footed cop chases an offender riding a scooter, Two Russian tanks annihilated with bombs by Ukrainian armed forces, Isabel Oakeshott clashes with Nick Robinson over Hancock texts, Dozens stuck in car park as staff refuses to open gate for woman, Insane moment river of rocks falls onto Malibu Canyon in CA. A broker who was a Scientologist approached a downtown property owner. The analysis considered property within the general boundaries of Cedar Street to the north, Missouri Avenue to the east, Chestnut Street to the south and the Intracoastal Waterway to the west. Were she in Utah, would the Times intrepid reporter have headlined that 'Mormons are buying up property in downtown Salt Lake City!' Hubbard had a vision of making Clearwater a spiritual home for his Church of Scientology. In those cases, four or more parcels purchased together clearly comprised a single piece of real estate. 9,523 Scientologists live in the Tampa Bay area. Personal trainer, 22, describes what working in the fitness industry is like when you're curvy - and why Jon Jones vs Ciryl Gane - UFC 285 LIVE: Follow all the action from main card ahead of HUGE heavyweight PETER HITCHENS: Now we know for sure that our leaders lost their heads over Covid. You'll find plenty of sites, activities, and attractions to explore near our pet-friendly Clearwater hotel, including downtown Tampa and downtown St. Petersburg, which is only 30 minutes away, Celebration Station, Honeymoon Island State Park, Clearwater Beach, Caladesi Island State Park, and Busch Gardens. The goal was to capture the area immediately surrounding both Scientologys headquarters, City Hall and the city-owned waterfront. Visitors are expected to stay in Scientologys hotels and eat at private church restaurants. City officials are suspicious that the church could be planning to do something with the land they now posses. Has the Church of Scientology ever killed anyone? A scuffed copy of the Koran. Your characterization that his religious affiliations somehow control his business activities is evidence of personal bias against his religion, Zaretsky wrote. GitHub export from English Wikipedia. Toxic trauma expert Gabor Mate diagnoses Prince Harry with attention deficit disorder but tells him it CAN 'I felt different to the rest of my family - and my mum felt the same': Prince Harry opens up on his 'broken 'He's completely beige drained of all his feisty ginger life-blood': JULIE BURCHILL'S verdict on Prince 'I was a bit of a mess': Amanda Abbington reveals she considered suicide after split from ex Martin Freeman DR ELLIE CANNON: My breast has not got lumps but it's itchy, should I be concerned about cancer at age 72? I agree, the blog has a limited purpose, Super excellent, really great chemistry, so enjoyable to watch. They came in under a fake name to buy the Fort Harrison Hotel, a historic hotel right in the center of downtown. Scientology spokesman Ben Shaw said in a statement that the church is not involved with the acquisitions. Hamilton, who owns the Palm Pavilion on Clearwater Beach, said if he was going to buy a piece of commercial property, then he would have plans for it before he acquired it and would head straight. Any property owned by a Scientologist or linked to a Scientologist is owned by the church, because the church owns its parishioners, said De Vocht, the former executive in charge of real estate, who reported directly to Miscavige. Scientologys survival depends on the preservation of its headquarters in Clearwater. Among them: make Clearwater known as the first Scientology city in the world.. Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard had written about doing away with governments and replacing them with a Scientology-run society. They now own most commercial property on every block within walking distance of the waterfront, putting the secretive church firmly in control of the areas future. The dowtown area of Clearwater is dominated by buildings owned by the Scientologists. Jim is a nationally known artist. Save. They also pointed to the latest edition of their Freedom magazine for what they called an accurate portrayal of the church and its members in Clearwater. New Pasco County commissioner accused of faking his residency, Guide to Plant Citys Strawberry Festival, one of the largest festivals in the nation, Gov. Florida Hotels and Places to Stay. In summer 2017, Mark Searcy, a longtime Clearwater real estate agent who is not a Scientologist, assembled a 1-acre site by getting the owners of three adjoining properties to agree to sell. City leaders spent tens of millions improving streets, subsidizing residential projects and hiring consultants. The plan. After the Times reported the purchases, Miscavige acknowledged the properties were bought for a second revitalization strategy one devised by the church. Toni Says: What is Medicares creditable prescription drug coverage? The city and the church fought in court for years. Fischler, a local real estate agent, negotiated at least 10 of the downtown deals, according to interviews with sellers. The Times also contacted representatives of all 32 companies it identified that bought downtown real estate over the past three years. After the City Council voted to buy the lot in April 2017, Miscavige refused to talk to city officials for the next two and a half years. Hes starting to assemble properties, Allbritton said. Church officials used a straw corporation to buy the historic Fort Harrison Hotel and moved in under a fake name. 275 reviews #24 of 428 Restaurants in Clearwater $ American Cafe Diner. L Ron Hubbard Lecture 31 Dec 1960, "Personal integrity is knowing what you know. Answer (1 of 12): Openly, they tend to congregate around the area of downtown where they work and own most of the real estate. Richard Tobias, an independent real estate appraiser in Pinellas County, said vast purchases of downtown real estate by entities tied to Scientology have cast confusion over the market. The Church of Scientology and companies run by its members spent $103 million over the past three years buying up vast sections of downtown Clearwater. Today, 10 years later, the economic influence of Scientologists in the community is commensurately higher. Oddly enough, half of those properties werent on sale and half of the sales went for more than double the propertys actual value. Clearwater is a beautiful town and the downtown area is now a ghost town. GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's Tracey McManus, who reports on Scientology for the Tampa Bay Times, talking about the church's increased real estate footprint in Clearwater, Fla. Hes encouraged by city investments in the boat ramp and North Ward Elementary, and holds out hope that the undeveloped lots and dilapidated homes will be replaced with something vibrant. A few weeks later, John Yarbrough sold the building where he had run his electrical services business for 22 years. Im concerned, Mayor Frank Hibbard said. In 2017 the church acquired six downtown Clearwater retail properties through limited liability companies. I'm glad you brought this up! But the promised downtown revival never came. Flag is run by thechurchs notorious full-time workforce, the Sea Org, whose members sign billion-year contracts. Did you check your W-2? In addition to a park and amphitheater, Imagine Clearwater also calls for several new projects on the waterfront with residences and retail. 307 S Myrtle Ave Frnt, Clearwater, FL 33756-5524 +1 727-446-3354 Website Menu. CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) A newspaper report says the Church of Scientology and companies run by its members spent more than $100 million over the past three years buying up huge sections of downtown Clearwater. The acquisitions mirror the pattern that unfolded downtown between 2017 and 2019, when companies tied to Scientology bought 100 properties within walking distance of the waterfront and the churchs international spiritual headquarters, then left many of those buildings vacant and lots undeveloped. #1 of 10 resorts in Clearwater. Many of their properties weren't listed for sale. They have completed courses and spiritual counseling that can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Closed now : See all hours. Most religions have a fundamentalist wing, Rinder said. He has not been arrested by the FBI; fined $10 million by the FTC for running a roach motel; is not facing criminal rape charges; is not dealing with class action lawsuits; and is not awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to felony insurance fraud. The Tampa Bay Times discovered them by reviewing more than 1,000 deeds and business records, then interviewed more than 90 people to reconstruct the circumstances surrounding the transactions. I thought this person was a cult member immediately . Tampa Bay Times reporter Tracey McManus has spent the last four years writing about Scientology and the churchs relationship with the city of Clearwater.