Chicago group's $4 million bid for Tampa's Channelside complex rejected

TAMPA — A Chicago firm's $4 million bid to buy Channelside Bay Plaza has been rejected.

Chicago-based M&J Wilkow Ltd., the firm that owns and operates Centro Ybor, submitted a $4 million offer on April 4 to the Tampa Port Authority. The plans called for a grocery store and a 30-story hotel to be built near the Channel District retail and entertainment complex.

CB Richard Ellis, the commercial real estate firm handling the sale, rejected the $4 million bid because it was not competitive.

"CBRE has been authorized to report that the offer in question had already been eliminated from consideration," spokeswoman Elizabeth Cross said.

Two weeks ago, the Tampa Bay Times reported that at least two well-connected local groups have submitted bids to buy Channelside.

Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik has teamed with Andrew Wright, head of Tampa commercial real estate firm Franklin Street, and Anthony Everett, founder and president of Everett Realty Services in Tampa.

The other group includes Bill Edwards, who recently bought St. Petersburg's BayWalk; Rick Michaels, chairman and CEO of Communications Equity Associates in Tampa; and Ken Jones, executive vice president and general counsel for Communications Equity Associates. Real estate titan Lee Arnold, chief executive of Colliers International Tampa Bay, is doing real estate consulting for the group.

Wilkow's partners in the unsuccessful plan included Dilip Kanji, president of Tampa's Impact Properties Inc.; Atlanta-based Batson-Cook Development Co.; and Tampa-based Dunphy Properties.

Wilkow paid $11.9 million for Centro Ybor in 2006 and $4 million more to pay off back taxes and other debt.

The $49 million Channelside complex opened in 2001 with few tenants and strong competition from nearby Centro Ybor, which opened about the same time. Channelside, Centro and BayWalk have all had financial struggles.

Anglo Irish Bank of Dublin took back Channelside in 2010 after the owners defaulted on a $27 million loan. The Irish government now owns the bank. Bids to buy the plaza had to be submitted more than two weeks ago.

The Tampa Port Authority owns the land under the center and has to approve any offer. It expects to get details this week from the bank. The agency and city prefer a local buyer and expect the selection process to take a month.

Mark Puente can be reached at mpuente@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8459. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/markpuente.

Chicago group's $4 million bid for Tampa's Channelside complex rejected 04/19/12 [Last modified: Thursday, April 19, 2012 8:08pm]

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