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(Carl Cronan is editor of Real Estate Media’s newest regional publication, Real Estate Florida.)

TAMPA, FL-A local megachurch currently under congressional scrutiny is considering selling its 7.7-acre property in a prime location in Tampa’s Westshore business district. Without Walls International Church has hired Cushman & Wakefield of Florida to market the 81,000-sf complex, which includes a 4,500-seat sanctuary, television studios and a health club. An offering circular is due for release next week.

C&W executives in Tampa declined comment and referred media inquiries to Without Walls, which also wouldn’t discuss sales plans for the property. “We’re exploring our options,” says Diana Gaddy, a pastor at the church. She then deferred questions to 5WPR, a New York City-based public relations firm that cites several religious organizations among its clients. Hillsborough County property records put the property’s assessed value at $9.5 million.

Without Walls, a Protestant church led by nationally recognized ministers Randy and Paula White, has operated from a former Canada Dry distribution center at 2511 N. Grady Ave. The church, which holds multiple services on Sundays and some weeknights, once claimed weekly attendance of nearly 24,000 and reportedly collects millions of dollars in tithes and other offerings annually.

That largesse has raised eyebrows among several religious watchdog groups and at least one member of Congress. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) launched an investigative review in November into the possible misuse of donations to Without Walls and five other megachurches across the country.

Making matters worse for the church, the Whites disclosed to their congregation in August they are divorcing after 18 years of marriage. Randy White pledged to continue leading Without Walls’ ministries in Tampa, where Paula White’s TV ministry is also based.

Despite the turmoil, Without Walls’ leadership has been seeking other local sites in the Tampa Bay area that can accommodate a congregation twice as large as its current seating capacity. The church also owns a 9,000-seat sanctuary in nearby Lakeland, acquired two years ago from Carpenter’s Home Church for $15 million.

Without Walls’ Westshore campus is considered one of the Tampa Bay market’s choicest redevelopment sites, located in the southwest quadrant of Dale Mabry Highway and Columbus Drive. It borders a former MetLife Inc. administrative complex now being converted to a mixed-use project, and is in proximity to Tampa International Airport and the upscale International Plaza mall, where a fourth class A office building is under construction.

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