1. News

Clearwater demands more details about dedication of Scientology building

The Church of Scientology’s long-dormant Flag Building is to be dedicated Oct. 6. In early November, an international Scientology convention normally held annually in England will be held in Clearwater, with 8,000 people expected to celebrate in a huge tent being shipped here from England.
The Church of Scientology’s long-dormant Flag Building is to be dedicated Oct. 6. In early November, an international Scientology convention normally held annually in England will be held in Clearwater, with 8,000 people expected to celebrate in a huge tent being shipped here from England.
Published Sep. 17, 2013

CLEARWATER — City officials have given the Church of Scientology two deadlines to provide more details about the Oct. 6 dedication and grand opening of the church's massive Flag Building.

If the church doesn't comply this week, the city might not approve Scientology's request for street and sidewalk closures downtown for an event that the church says will draw up to 10,000 guests.

In an email Friday, Christopher Hubbard, chairman of the city's special events committee, informed church officials that an "incomplete" traffic plan submitted earlier this month must be updated by Wednesday.

The church must also submit a certificate of liability insurance and an updated venue site plan by Friday, he wrote.

"Failure to meet either deadline will result in the forfeiture of City approval" for the dedication, Hubbard wrote.

Church officials didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The long-delayed opening of what has been called the church's "Super Power" building promises to be a high-profile affair. The building will reportedly house the church's highly classified "Super Power" program, first advanced by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard in the 1970s.

The edifice, which occupies an entire city block, has been under construction since 1998. Construction delays eventually drew daily fines. In 2011, the church paid $413,500 to the city.

The Tampa Bay Times has estimated the church has raised $145 million for the seven-story structure.

The church requested street and sidewalk closures for an hourlong ceremony and related events in an application submitted in August.

City Manager Bill Horne said Monday that if the church doesn't meet the deadlines this week, it doesn't automatically mean it won't be able to hold the event as planned.

"I'll have to determine what the 'miss' is. It could be an administrative issue and I'll take it into account," Horne said. "It is a drop-dead date, but there may be an exception that may have to be made. I don't know that until I get more facts. But we don't expect people to miss those dates."

Horne said he had called church officials and was waiting for a response.

Charlie Frago can be reached at or (727) 445-4159. You can follow him on Twitter @CharlieFrago


  1. A vigil at Pine Trails Park in Parkland for victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Credit: Al Diaz, Miami Herald
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  2. At the request of a state lawmaker, Citizens Property Insurance Co.’s board is again bringing in an outside evaluator to help the insurer decide if and how to cull its policyholder base. Pictured is  Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) (left) and Barry Gilway, CEO of Citizens. [Courtesy of Sen. Jeff Brandes and Citizens Property Insurance Co.]
    At the request of St. Petersburg Sen. Jeff Brandes, the insurer will look for ways to shrink.
  3. Katie Golden, left, died from a drug overdose in 2017. Titan Goodson, right, is accused of manslaughter in her death. [Family photo | Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
    Titan Goodson stands accused in the 2017 heroin overdose death of Plant High senior Katie Golden. In an unusual trial, a jury will decide if he is responsible.
  4. Some schools have already closed for the holidays, but everyone should be off by the end of the day Dec. 20. [Times (2015)]
    Some schools are closing for the holidays this week; others won’t be done for a few days. Then it’s lights out until early January.
  5. In addition to offering groceries through Prime Now, Amazon has just launched Amazon Fresh in Tampa Bay. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
    The online retailer branches out beyond the Whole Foods’ organic products it already offers.
  6. Traffic backing up on southbound Interstate 275 on the Howard Frankland Bridge Thursday evening after the Florida Highway Patrol said a fatal crash took place hours earlier. [Florida Department of Transportation]
    The collision of two pickup trucks left traffic snarled for hours. Motorists should find another way into Pinellas County.
  7. This undated photo provided by the U.S. Navy shows Airman Mohammed Sameh Haitham, from St. Petersburg, Fla. One of the victims of the shooting Friday, Dec. 6, 2019, at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., has been identified as Haitham, 19, who joined the Navy after graduating from high school last year, according to the Tampa Bay Times. (U.S. Navy via AP) [U.S. NAVY PHOTO   |  AP]
    Ferg’s will sponsor the benefit concert for the family of Mohammad “Mo” Haitham
  8. Pinellas County Commission chairwoman Karen Seel said a Tampa economic development group's recent decision to put "Tampa Bay" into its name "does great harm to the progress we have made on regional collaboration."
    But in Tampa, the chief executive officer of the nonprofit, government-supported economic development group is giving no sign of backing off the new name.
  9. This holiday season could be a record for travel. According to AAA, the Auto Club Group. Pictured is traffic on the Bayside Bridge in Clearwater in October. [Times file photo] [CHRIS URSO  |  Times]
    According to AAA, the Auto Club Group, more Americans are traveling this year than previous years.
  10. Dan Short, second from right, owner of Dan-Lo Jewelers,  speaks with Hernando County Sheriff's detective Anthony Belmonte, far right, during a news conference Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019 in Brooksville. The Sheriff's Office announced that a trio of jewelry store burglars were arrested after robbing between $16 million and $18 million from places around Florida. [ZACK SAMPSON  |  Times]
    The trio targeted jewelry stores, making off with as much as $18 million, authorities say. They were finally arrested in Chicago.