HEADLINE: Old hotel is offered for $ 1.5-million

BYLINE: CURTIS KRUEGER

CLEARWATER - The Gray Moss Inn, a turn-of-the-century hotel that is a downtown landmark, is for sale.

St. Petersburg Times, September 26, 1989

The old gray hotel, surrounded by century-old, moss-covered oaks, has been shown to several prospective buyers, said Gerald S. "Jerry" Rehm and Barbara Holland, who are handling the sale.

The asking price for the hotel at 215 S Fort Harrison Ave. is $1.5-million, said Ms. Holland, a real-estate agent.

The owners of the property are John and Darlene Van Harlingen of Sherman Oaks, Calif. They bought it as an investment, said Rehm, who also is a state representative.

Holland and Rehm said prospective buyers have considered a number of possible uses for the building, ranging from a Chinese restaurant to aaprivate school. The building has about 50,000 square feet of space, much of which could be used for offices, a hotel or rental housing.

The building was being used as a low-cost hotel, but an arson fire in April forced 108 residents to evacuate. Rehm said the owners still are negotiating an insurance claim to cover the fire damage. The fire has not slowed the effort to sell the building, Rehm said.

He pointed out that several retail businesses have rented stores in the lower floor of the old hotel. They include a health food store, a pizza place, a flower shop and a convenience store.

Rehm said the Church of Scientology has not expressed any interest in buying the building.

The Scientologists maintain their spiritual headquarters in the Fort Harrison Hotel, across the street from the Gray Moss Inn. Many of the retail businesses cater to the nearby Scientologists.