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Pinellas Point church, 3 acres for sale

St. Mary's Polish National Catholic Church is asking $1.7-million.

By WAVENEY ANN MOORE
Published July 22, 2007


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ST. PETERSBURG - For the third time in a little over a decade, St. Mary's Polish National Catholic Church on Pinellas Point Drive is for sale.

The price for the 3.1-acre property is $1.7-million. It's being offered as a possible development site for 15 to 16 single-family homes.

Church officials and real estate agent Patrick Calhoon declined to discuss the proposed sale.

The congregation, which was organized in 1958 and moved to Pinellas Point in 1976, has put the property up for sale at least twice before. It was on the market for two years in the mid 1990s, but parish leaders decided not to sell after the church got a new, young priest who had plans to invigorate the tiny, aging congregation.

In 1998, with that new spiritual leader still on board, members again decided to sell the property, saying that many in the congregation lived far away in northern Pinellas County.

The price was $700,000. Close to two dozen churches and several entrepreneurs, including one from Canada who wanted to build apartments on the site, expressed interest in the property at 2175 Pinellas Point Drive S. The priest then, the Rev. Robert Niznik, said he hoped it would remain a church.

"We have prayed so much here. But God's will," he said.

The current priest, the Rev. John Sielchan, would say only that the congregation is testing the waters. In a part of the county where there is little vacant land, the property near waterfront homes could prompt interest despite a weak real estate market.

St. Mary's is a member of the small Polish National Catholic Church, founded in Scranton, Pa., in 1897, after administrative and ethnic differences with the Roman Catholic Church. The denomination has about 25,000 members in the United States, according to a church Web site.

St. Mary's is one of the denomination's three Florida churches and the only one in the Tampa Bay area.

Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at 727 892-2283 or moore@sptimes.com.

[Last modified July 21, 2007, 23:39:57]


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