Tuesday, February 20, 2018
News Roundup

Is John Travolta moving to Clearwater? Property records offer hints

CLEARWATER —Is John Travolta, one of Scientology's most celebrated members, inching closer to his religion's international base in Clearwater?

Well, we don't know for sure. But there are solid connections in real estate records.

On July 10, a waterfront home in the Old Clearwater Bay neighborhood sold for $3 million to an investment trust held by Ellen Bannon, the actor's sister.

Bannon's investment trust is also listed as the owner of Travolta's eight-bedroom mansion in Ocala with two airplane hangars, a tennis court and horse barn, according to property records.

The 6,162-square-foot pad overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway sits directly next door to two houses owned by actor and Scientologist Kirstie Alley. The block on N Osceola Avenue is about a mile walk to Scientology's international spiritual headquarters downtown.

And Travolta has spent time in the city recently, most notably in April, when he highlighted an invitation-only event at the Fort Harrison Hotel about Scientology leader David Miscavige's now-rescinded retail development plan.

About 70 parishioners, business and property owners, and downtown stakeholders mingled with Travolta, Kelly Preston, Alley and pianist Chick Corea on the rooftop patio of the historic hotel before Miscavige's presentation.

Miscavige described his plan to bankroll a facade overhaul of buildings along Cleveland Street, recruit high-end retail to empty storefronts, and build an entertainment complex with actor Tom Cruise, but hinged the offer on the church's ability to buy a vacant 1.4-acre downtown lot for its campus. When the City Council voted one week later to buy that vacant lot, Miscavige pulled the retail offer and cut communication with government officials.

And Cruise, lauded as an international advocate for Scientology, has more reported residential ties to downtown.

In September, developers of the 10-story SkyView condo tower at Cleveland Street and Osceola Avenue revised original building plans mid-construction to turn the top three floors into a lavish penthouse with a gym, theater, pool, garden, game room, car elevator and a flight simulator.

RELATED: Scientology draws dueling petitions involving Leah Remini, the IRS and change.org

Skyview developer Moises Agami said Thursday the project should be completed this fall but declined to comment on whether Cruise purchased the penthouse. But both City Manager Bill Horne and Mayor George Cretekos have said they understood the penthouse was being prepared for Cruise.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Miscavige details his retail plan to City Council members in private meetings

After Tony Ortega, who runs a blog critical of Scientology, reported Cruise's alleged interest in the SkyView's penthouse last year, the story was picked up worldwide from the New York Post to the British Daily Mail.

Travolta, Bannon and the Jacksonville-based attorney representing the investment trust could not be reached for comment to confirm the actor's connection to the N Osecola Avenue home's purchase.

But Silke Peens, who owned the home since 2009 before selling to the investment trust, has a connection as well.

Peens' current address listed on the deed is 6331 Hollywood Blvd. in Los Angeles: the Church of Scientology International.

Times senior researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Contact Tracey McManus at [email protected] or (727) 445-4151. Follow @TroMcManus.

   
Comments
Yes, we have some bananas: Port Tampa Bay welcomes first shipment in 21 years

Yes, we have some bananas: Port Tampa Bay welcomes first shipment in 21 years

TAMPA — More than two decades after the last bunch arrived on shore, bananas are back at Tampa’s port. More than 3,900 pallets of Chiquita bananas from Ecuador arrived last week at the new Port Logistics Refrigerated Services warehouse.It was the fir...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Pasco County loans $500,000 for neighborhood rebuild

Pasco County loans $500,000 for neighborhood rebuild

NEW PORT RICHEY – West Pasco Habitat for Humanity’s new partner opened its checkbook Tuesday to help redevelop the Van Doren Avenue and Leisure Lane neighborhood west of U.S. 19.Pasco commissioners agreed to lend $500,000 from a reserve account to th...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Spring Hill candidate for Congress: ‘I care about this community — I will scream that from the rafters’

Spring Hill candidate for Congress: ‘I care about this community — I will scream that from the rafters’

SPRING HILL — A Hernando County woman new to the political arena has filed as the fifth Democrat to run against longtime Florida lawmaker U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster for his spot in the U.S. House of Representatives.Dana Cottrell, 49, has lived in Sprin...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Neighbor stunned after woman, 71, raped in ‘safe’ neighborhood

Neighbor stunned after woman, 71, raped in ‘safe’ neighborhood

NEW PORT RICHEY— Iris Ramos couldn’t sleep Monday night after what deputies said happened four houses away.Ramos, 70, lives near 7437 Heather St., where the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said a 71-year-old woman was raped in a home invasion-style att...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Pasco commission balks at landfill plan

Pasco commission balks at landfill plan

NEW PORT RICHEY – Pasco County commissioners put the brakes on expanded trash hauling to an out-of-county landfill, saying its solid waste department showed poor planning in seeking last-minute authorization on what should have been a thoroughly vett...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Hernando commissioners discuss disbanding planning board

Hernando commissioners discuss disbanding planning board

BROOKSVILLE — One day after the Hernando County Planning and Zoning Commission recommended denial of a controversial Cemex mine expansion, county commissioners — a majority of whom have spoken in favor of expanded mining — discussed eliminating the p...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Upset by grade, Robinson High student threatens to shoot up campus, police say

Upset by grade, Robinson High student threatens to shoot up campus, police say

Schools nationwide are on heightened alert in the wake of last week’s fatal shootings in Broward County, and in the Tampa area, that means official warnings about social media posts and more calls for police action.Two Tampa boys, one 15 and one 16, ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Bed bugs found in books at Brandon library branch

Bed bugs found in books at Brandon library branch

BRANDON — The unwelcome appearance of a lowly insect is forcing county officials to close the Brandon library branch for three days.No, not bookworms. Bed bugs.The county is bringing in a pest control company to inspect and treat the 25,000-square fo...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Syria’s starved, rebellious suburb under attack

Syria’s starved, rebellious suburb under attack

BEIRUT — The airstrikes came at a rate of one a minute, with horrible results: civilians fleeing collapsing buildings, children trapped under slabs of concrete, paramedics grimly rushing the bloodied victims away on stretchers. At least 100 people we...
Updated: 3 hours ago
County gives initial support to adding deputies at Hernando elementary schools

County gives initial support to adding deputies at Hernando elementary schools

BROOKSVILLE — The Hernando County Commission on Tuesday informally supported adding as many as 10 school resource officers in county schools, including one for every elementary school, in an effort to bolster security in the wake of the deadly school...
Updated: 3 hours ago