$1 billion Scientology backed development in Clearwater

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CLEARWATER — The city’s Community Development Board has approved a 64-unit luxury condo on Osceola Avenue, the first of roughly 15 projects that developer Rodney Riley is planning for the North Marina Area near downtown.

The board’s approval on Tuesday was the only vote needed for the 66-foot-tall condo on vacant land just south of the entrance to the city’s popular Seminole Boat Ramp. But the remaining projects in what Riley recently described as his $1 billion Clearwater Marina District depend on a more complicated process to change the downtown plan and code to allow for more density and increased heights.


However, an email obtained by the Tampa Bay Times lays out in detail that wealthy members of Scientology are behind the project and they recruited [Rodney] Riley to act as their public face. It states Riley would receive 20% of profits plus a $250,000 annual salary from a parishioner’s company for handling day-to-day work, planning, lobbying and interactions with the public.

The email, first reported by the Times in April, names the author as Stephen Epstein, a Scientology parishioner and advisor for a Nashville-based real estate firm. The email explains that Riley was needed to avoid questions about the motives of the parishioners involved.

The recipient of the email, titled “Structure (email to Rod)” is named as Edward Tinsley, a former employee of Epstein’s real estate firm.

Riley adamantly rejected these portrayals, saying he did not receive the email and never agreed to the terms it describes. Epstein said the email was “inaccurate” and Tinsley declined to comment.

Content retrieved from: https://www.tampabay.com/news/clearwater/2023/07/19/clearwater-oks-first-condo-1b-north-marina-plan-questions-remain/.

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