On Feb. 18, 2009, I reported the ongoing renovation work at the Fort Harrison luxury hotel in Clearwater.
Saturday night, the Church of Scientology held a reception, attended by many local bigwigs, to celebrate its reopening.
The CoS says that now that this huge project is completed, they will focus on finishing the "Super Power" building for which they are being fined $250 a day for not bringing it up to code.
Scientology church gives Clearwater's Fort Harrison Hotel a $40M makeover - St. Petersburg Times
"A 12,000-crystal chandelier for the ballroom.
The Church of Scientology is reopening its lavishly renovated Fort Harrison Hotel [...]
Now attention turns to Scientology's enormous building across the street that has sat vacant and unfinished for six years, mystifying the public.
The Flag Building, nicknamed the "Super Power" building, is a seven-story, 380,000-square-foot empty shell that encompasses a whole city block. The church gets fined $250 a day for not bringing it up to code, and the fines now total $245,000.
Numerous promises to finish the building have come and gone, but church officials insist that this time it really is next on their to-do list. [...]
Built in 1927 as Clearwater's first skyscraper, the hotel was a local focal point for decades. [...]
The church has gained greater acceptance over the last 15 years or so, to the point where many local bigwigs felt comfortable attending a reception at the hotel Saturday night. [...]
Now the redesigned lobby opens up to the third floor, where a pedestrian bridge crosses Fort Harrison Avenue to the unfinished Flag Building. [...]
The hotel has three restaurants — none of which will be open to the public, despite what the church previously said. The ballroom won't be rented out for weddings either. [...]
Construction on the Flag Building began in 1999, and it was supposed to open in 2002. Work stopped in 2003 and has been at a standstill ever since. [...]
"We look forward to them getting it complete," said Mayor Frank Hibbard.
In 2006, Clearwater started fining Scientology $250 a day for failing to bring its building up to code. When it's finally finished, the city's code enforcement board will review the fines and decide whether to forgive any.[...]
Scientology's explanation for the unfinished building: It repeatedly redesigned the interior, and it embarked on an international building spree. Recently in Clearwater, it has chosen to work on the Oak Cove and Fort Harrison hotels instead. [...]
The building is nicknamed "Super Power" because it will be the only place in the world where a highly classified Scientology program called Super Power will be offered. Its upper floors will house special equipment that church officials say is designed to heighten one's perceptions. [...]
The Fort Harrison Hotel's renovation will increase Scientology's property tax bill. Two-thirds of the church's property in Clearwater is tax-exempt because it's used for religious purposes, but Scientology's hotels and restaurants are taxed. Last year Scientology was charged nearly $800,000 in taxes on nearly $108 million worth of Pinellas County property. [...]'