Channelside to offer free parking in lot
Channelside Bay Plaza just can't stay out of the news this week.
First the Tampa Port Authority announced a $5.75 million deal to buy the fading retail center. Now the port will offer free parking in the surface lot next door on Garrison Street.
Free parking will start Friday and run through Jan. 2.
Patrons will not be charged for parking there except during scheduled nights events such as hockey games and concerts at the nearby Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Overnight parking will still be prohibited and patrons will still have to pay to use the parking garage.
The idea of free parking was suggested by the Tampa Port Authority governing board during last month's meeting as a way to help the complex's remaining tenants by making it easier for customers to park so they can eat and shop at the few businesses still open.
The port owns the parking lot, but if judges approve the purchase agreement, then it will own the Channelside building, too.
The board voted Tuesday to buy it from the Irish bank that foreclosed on it three years ago. It could take up to eight weeks to approve the deal, then the port can start looking for a new developer to renovate and revitalize the downtown complex.