THE CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY IN CLEARWATER
By the 1970s, Clearwater’s downtown had begun to suffer a plight common across the country. A 1972 study by the American Institute of Architects reported, “The phenomenon of the suburban shopping center competition was somewhat slow in coming to the Clearwater area, but its impact is now being felt in the downtown.” As a result, “The overriding problem of Clearwater’s downtown is that it is devoid of people. There is nothing to do, nothing to see.”
Three years later, in late 1975, the Church of Scientology relocated its international religious headquarters into this blighted area and began a program of restoring some of Clearwater’s oldest and most historic structures, thereby preserving snapshots into Clearwater’s past.
In the 15 years prior to the opening of the Flag Building in 2013, the Church of Scientology renovated, restored or built 1.2 million square feet of property in Clearwater.
Today, the Church owns 22 buildings downtown, making it the area’s largest property tax payer. By serving as an international religious retreat for thousands of Scientologists from more than 50 nations around the world, the Church is a major contributor to State and local tourist taxes. Scientologists come and enjoy everything Clearwater has to offer as a top tourist attraction in Florida, and more than 2,300 Church staff members work in Clearwater and thousands more parishioners call Clearwater home.