Make us your home page

Church of Scientology seeks expansion in Ybor City

TAMPA — The Church of Scientology is looking to expand its presence in Ybor City.

The church is considering buying or leasing space in Ybor Square, according to a letter to the city of Tampa zoning administrator from Ana Tirabassi, Scientology's corporate secretary.

Tirabassi wrote that the church has outgrown its current Tampa facilities on Habana Avenue in West Tampa, which the church bought in 2001 and 2003.

"We would very much like to relocate entirely to Ybor City," she wrote.

The church plans to occupy two of the three buildings — the factory and the stemmery, where stems were pulled from tobacco plants —- that make up Ybor Square, and "to leave the existing tenants, Spaghetti Warehouse and Creative Loafing, in the Warehouse Building for the foreseeable future."

In the letter to zoning administrator Cathy Coyle, Tirabassi asked for a decision on whether the church would be allowed under current zoning regulations to use the space for banquets, lectures, films and one-hour Sunday services in addition to offices.

Coyle answered that those uses would be allowed.

Ybor Square, at Ninth Avenue and 13th Street, is the site of the cigar factory complex once owned be the historic district's namesake, Don Vicente Martinez Ybor. It's listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

"We have a better than average record of maintaining historically significant properties in Tampa and Clearwater, and will continue that record if allowed to occupy this property," Tirabassi wrote.

Previously, the complex included a shopping center. Orlando-based ZOM Corp. bought the buildings in 2000 for nearly $4 million and converted them to offices.

The church is under contract to make a decision on the property by Wednesday, Tirabassi wrote.

Scientology already operates a life improvement center in a 6,600-square-foot Ybor City storefront on Eighth Avenue, bought in 2004 for $1.2 million, according to the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser's Office.

"There was concern by some members of the community when they bought the building on Eighth Avenue," said Vince Pardo, manager of the Ybor City Development Corporation. "Initially, I had some complaints because they were on the streets quite a bit with these personality tests."

He said activities slowed after he talked with church leaders.

"It worked out pretty well, and we've had a pretty good relationship since then," Pardo said. "They've been a good neighbor. They keep their property up. They've done some community service projects in the district."

Janet Zink can be reached at or (813) 226-3401.

Church of Scientology seeks expansion in Ybor City 05/03/10 [Last modified: Monday, May 3, 2010 11:48pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Legalized medical marijuana signed into law by Rick Scott

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed into law a broader medical marijuana system for the state, following through on a promise he made earlier this month.

    Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation on Friday that legalizes medical marijuana in Florida.
  2. Line of moms welcome Once Upon A Child to Carrollwood


    CARROLLWOOD — Strollers of all shapes and sizes are lined up in front of the store, and inside, there are racks of children's clothing in every color of the rainbow.

    At Once Upon A Child, you often as many baby strollers outside as you find baby furniture and accessories. It recently opened this location in Carrollwood. Photo by Danielle Hauser
  3. Pastries N Chaat brings North India cuisine to North Tampa


    TAMPA — Pastries N Chaat, a new restaurant offering Indian street food, opened this week near the University of South Florida.

    The menu at Pastries N Chaat includes a large variety of Biriyani, an entree owners say is beloved by millions. Photo courtesy of Pastries N Chaat.
  4. 'Garbage juice' seen as threat to drinking water in Florida Panhandle county


    To Waste Management, the nation's largest handler of garbage, the liquid that winds up at the bottom of a landfill is called "leachate," and it can safely be disposed of in a well that's 4,200 feet deep.

    Three samples that were displayed by Jackson County NAACP President Ronstance Pittman at a public meeting on Waste Management's deep well injection proposal. The sample on the left is full of leachate from the Jackson County landfill, the stuff that would be injected into the well. The sample on the right shows leachate after it's been treated at a wastewater treatment plant. The one in the middle is tap water.
  5. Honda denies covering up dangers of Takata air bags


    With just a third of the defective Takata air bag inflators replaced nationwide, the corporate blame game of who will take responsibility — and pay — for the issue has shifted into another gear.

    Honda is denying covering up dangers of Takata air bags. | [Scott McIntyre, New York Times]