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Deal between Pinellas Park, church, Joyland under way

The city has paid $3-million for the church. The church will soon buy the dance hall.

By ANNE LINDBERG
Published August 6, 2003

PINELLAS PARK - Officials handed over $3-million last week and the city became the proud owner of a church.

Pinellas Park Baptist Temple did not expect to keep the money for long. It was scheduled to hand over most of the funds - $2.8-million - so it could become the owner of Joyland, a bar and dance joint.

When extensive renovations are complete, church officials expect lots of folks will experience not secular pleasures, but the joy of worshiping God.

The Rev. Dr. Everett Farris did not return a phone message asking for comment about the church's plans. But the congregation's Web site, www.ppbt.org has plenty of information on the group's plans.

The change of venue would mean larger space for the Sunday school, church services and the Christian school; a bus barn so repair work can be done onsite; a giant gymnasium; ample space for banquets, parking and other activities.

And with about 100,000 people driving by the location at 11225 U.S. 19 N every day, the church will have a higher profile and a chance to gather new members.

It is unclear when construction will begin. But the Baptist Temple can remain in its present location, 4981 78th Ave. N, until Dec. 31, 2004.

Until that time, the church will pay $12,500-a-month rent to the city.

Pinellas Park has no specific plans for the church, said Tom Shevlin, assistant city manager. A couple of people have asked about leasing it, he said. And other ideas have been batted around, ranging from extending the park around City Hall to building more office space.

[Last modified August 6, 2003, 01:33:00]


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