$385-million later, a new Clearwater core - 2007-09-10
It's a dramatic turnaround for an area that has been in a free fall since the mid 1970s, when the Church of Scientology arrived and secretly bought downtown's biggest hotel, then started gobbling up properties nearby.
In all, about $385-million in public and private sector investment is pouring into downtown Clearwater. After fits and starts, the city is attracting believers with deep pockets, ones willing to make plays where others - including Clearwater voters - previously saw too much risk.
Clearwater's downtown is an odd patchwork of government buildings, empty storefronts and Scientology's international spiritual headquarters.
On an average day, about 600 city workers, more than 1,700 county and court system employees, and 1,400 uniformed Scientology staffers are at work here.