Clearwater property owners sell $58M real estate portfolio to Church of Scientology parishioner – FOX 13 Tampa

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They were one of the last major property owners in downtown Clearwater that didn’t have ties to the Church of Scientology, but last month they sold more than $58 million in real estate to a developer with ties to the church.

“I’d love to see more restaurants. More cafés,” real estate investor Daniels Ikajevs said.

That was part of Ikajevs’ vision for downtown Clearwater when he first started buying up property in 2012.

RELATED: Clearwater mayor hoping to work with Church of Scientology on downtown development

“It’s a beautiful downtown, ultimately, and I think there’s a lot of bones here, but it needs also city incentives to offset some of the risks,” Ikajevs said.

He owned more than 33 parcels of land in downtown Clearwater, including parking lots, office space and One Clearwater Tower. But earlier this month, he sold his entire real estate portfolio for $58 million to developer Moises Agami, who is a known parishioner of the Church of Scientology, broadening the church’s control over the city’s downtown.

“To be honest, the church was never a factor for why I came here or why I left,” Ikajevs said.

He said his decision to sell is rooted in his frustration with previous city leadership. He feels they didn’t do enough to incentivize property owners and businesses. 

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Last March, when former Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard abruptly quit, Ikajevs said that was a turning point for him.

“That shocked the community and sent a negative message to the businesses,” Ikajevs said.

When it came to selling, Ikajevs said Agami approached him about buying his entire portfolio. The real estate investor said they didn’t give a reason for why they wanted to buy it or what they planned to do with it.

FOX 13 reached out to Agami to learn more about why he bought it and what businesses he hopes to bring in, but we are still waiting to hear back. 

Some residents worry people with ties to the church are simply buying property with no immediate plans to bring in business simply so no one else can buy it – effectively controlling what comes into downtown Clearwater.

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“We need to work on our relationship with Scientology for sure and find solutions to getting those vacant buildings activated,” Clearwater Mayor Bruce Rector told FOX 13 in early April.

Meanwhile, Ikajevs said while he’s no longer a major property owner in downtown Clearwater, he’s still a passionate resident and hopes to see the city’s downtown prosper.

Ikajevs: “The question becomes who takes the lead, is it the Church, is it the private sector or is it the City of Clearwater?

FOX 13’s Jordan Bowen: “Who do you think it should be?”

Ikajevs: “I think it’s a combination of all 3.”

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