Make us your home page
Instagram

BayWalk hit with foreclosure suit

It's official: BayWalk, the St. Petersburg entertainment complex celebrated as a catalyst for downtown's renaissance, is facing foreclosure.

Wells Fargo Bank has filed suit in Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court seeking foreclosure of a mortgage on the $50-million complex that opened in 2000.

The court filing does not affect BayWalk stores, which remain open. Christmas decorations filled the entertainment complex's open-air center on Wednesday.

The lawsuit was expected. BayWalk owner Fred Bullard Jr. admitted last week he is refusing to make monthly payments of about $120,000 on the loan after settlement negotiations between Bullard and the lender broke down.

Bullard said he did not plan to fight the foreclosure.

"We are a little bit puzzled as to why they wouldn't cooperate and help us get this project back on its feet," Bullard told the St. Petersburg Times last week. Bullard could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Once a spark plug for downtown retail, BayWalk has been saddled with a reputation as a hangout for raucous teens and has had well-publicized difficulties attracting tenants.

Several prominent retail spaces remain empty, though a store selling Super Bowl merchandise is temporarily occupying a storefront along the complex's first floor.

BayWalk owners also are still fighting a lawsuit in the case of Josiah Wineberger, the child badly hurt after a music speaker fell on him in February 2007.

Bruce Rabon, who owns two clothing stores and has rented space since BayWalk opened in 2000, said he is happy the foreclosure is proceeding.

"I'm hoping it's going to turn around," Rabon said. "I'm being real positive about it. Hopefully the mortgage lender will sell it, and we can get this going. This is one unbelievable piece of property."

Bullard took control of BayWalk in September, buying out the Sembler Co. for an undisclosed amount and pledging to invest heavily in renovations and improvements in the complex.

The news thrilled city officials, who were hoping the downtown anchor could be rejuvenated.

Now it appears, after less than three months, BayWalk is destined for another owner.

It's not the first time a prominent Tampa Bay area entertainment complex teetered on financial ruin. In 2004, Centro Ybor, another Sembler Co. development, fell into foreclosure. In that case, the city of Tampa was forced to step in to make $750,000 annual payments.

And Tampa's Channelside project sold at a deep discount in 2005 as its owner struggled to fill its retail and restaurant space.

In court filings, Wells Fargo and CWCapital Asset Management say they did not authorize the sale of the property to Bullard or the subsequent removal of BayWalk's property manager.

Wells Fargo says Bullard owes $14.46-million.

The bank has asked a judge to sell the entertainment complex at public auction.

No timetable for the foreclosure has been set. A lawyer for Wells Fargo did not return a call seeking comment.

Times staff researcher Carolyn Edds and staff writer Piper Jones Castillo contributed to this report.

BayWalk hit with foreclosure suit 11/26/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 3, 2008 3:42pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rep. Larry Ahern gets roughed up by Clearwater City Council

    State Roundup

    It seemed innocuous enough: an "end of session report" from state Rep. Larry Ahern, R-Seminole, to the Clearwater City Council.

    Then Ahern got taken to the woodshed.

    Rep. Larry Ahern is vying for a seat on the Pinellas commission.
  2. There's a bar in Tampa where you can roller skate and eat sushi

    Food & Dining

    Roller skating, it's not just for kids birthday parties and the 1970s anymore.

    The exterior of Pattinis features this mural by Art Aliens! [Pattinis South Tampa via Facebook]
  3. Lockdown: Florida's 97,000 prison inmates confined through weekend

    State Roundup

    All of Florida's 97,000 state prison inmates are on lockdown — and will remain confined to their dorms at least through the weekend — in response to unspecified threats about possible uprisings, officials from the Florida Department of Corrections confirmed Thursday.

    Blackwater River Correctional Facility. [Florida Department of Corrections]
  4. Carnival announces five more cruises from Tampa to Cuba

    Tourism

    TAMPA — Carnival Cruise Line is adding five more cruises from Tampa to Cuba in 2018, Port Tampa Bay announced Thursday.

      Carnival Cruise Line announced additional cruises to  Cuba. Pictured is its Paradise cruise ship departing on its inaugural voyage to Cuba from Tampa. | [MONICA HERNDON | Times]
  5. Engage Behavioral Health expands into Wesley Chapel

    Business

    On Aug. 5, Engage Behavioral Health celebrated the grand opening of a new clinic in Wesley Chapel.

    hillsevbiz081117: Jennifer Phelps is the CEO & Founder of Engage Behavioral Health. Photo courtesy of Engage Behavioral Health.