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City to buy vacant Clearwater Marine Aquarium lot eyed by Church of Scientology

CLEARWATER — The City Council is moving forward with buying a vacant 1.4 acre lot across the street from City Hall owned by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

City Attorney Pam Akin said Tuesday that a purchase contract will be presented for approval at the regular meeting March 16.

The purchase will coincide with city plans to sell the current City Hall site at 112 S Osceola Ave. to a developer for residences, retail or other uses. A 10-year, potentially $55 million downtown revitalization plan unveiled this month encouraged redevelopment of underused parcels along Osceola Avenue to help stimulate the waterfront and promote economic development.

The Church of Scientology offered the aquarium $4.25 million for the lot at the southwest corner of Osceola Avenue and Pierce Street in 2014, but CEO David Yates said the aquarium was holding out to give city officials time to decide if they'd like to buy the land.

Earlier this month, Scientology spokesman Ben Shaw told the Tampa Bay Times the Church wanted the lot, which is adjacent to Scientology's 13-story Oak Cove religious retreat, "to provide additional accommodations for our parishioners."

City to buy vacant Clearwater Marine Aquarium lot eyed by Church of Scientology 02/21/17 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 21, 2017 6:41pm]
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