Friday, June 22, 2018
Business

Tampa Port Authority fires back at Liberty in war of words over Channelside auction

TAMPA — This week in court, Liberty Channelside LLC accused the Tampa Port Authority and bank liquidators of rigging the Channelside Bay Plaza auction in favor of the eventual winner: Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik.

Now the Tampa Port Authority has fired back with an allegation of its own: It was Liberty that sabotaged the auction by failing to bid.

Had Liberty bid against its competitors — the port and the Vinik group — then the auction would have been more competitive, the motion said.

Instead, Liberty attended the July 2 auction but didn't bid. Then on Tuesday, Liberty challenged the auction in court, accused the Irish Bank Resolution Corp.'s liquidators, the port and the Vinik group of conspiracy, and offered $10 million for control of Channelside.

"Liberty has made a bad-faith attempt to commandeer this bid process for its own benefit," read the port's motion.

Liberty investor Punit Shah released this statement on Friday:

"Despite the responses from the Port and IBRC, the results of the auction speak for themselves. The fact that, out of 80 prospects, only Vinik, the Port, and Liberty were the ones willing to bid reflects that the auction process was poorly conducted and chilled by a multitude of factors."

The New York auction was overseen by the liquidators of the IBRC, the bank that owns Channelside. The Irish bank's assets are being sold off under the watch of U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Sontchi.

Vinik's new company, CBP Development LLC, won with a bid of $7.1 million for the building. Vinik's new ownership group also presented a letter of credit of $10 million to assure the IBRC and the port that it could rehabilitate the plaza.

The Lightning owner's offer was declared the "highest and best" bid. It was for the most money, and his ownership group proved it had the resources to turn Channelside around.

After failing to bid, Liberty then accused the IBRC of colluding with Vinik before the auction. It also accused the Tampa Port Authority of setting a maximum bid of $15 million to scare away anyone who might bid against Vinik. The port bid $3.5 million for the loan.

The port's attorneys accused Liberty of playing games with the auction process.

"Liberty essentially admits that it knew it could not meet the possible highest and best bid, and, to circumvent this fact, Liberty simply chose not to participate in the live auction in order to obtain an improper advantage," the motion read. "By refusing to bid at the live auction, Liberty eliminated any competition from the auction …

"This was a tactical ploy by Liberty made in an effort to keep the bids stagnant by eliminating any competitive bid increases."

It will be up to the bankruptcy judge to rule on motions and allegations made by both sides. The court must also decide whether Vinik's winning bid will finally settle the ownership of Channelside once and for all. That hearing will take place Tuesday in Delaware.

Comments
Health care IT company CareSync shuts down, laying off 292

Health care IT company CareSync shuts down, laying off 292

TAMPA — The days ahead were supposed to be bright.For weeks, health care tech company CareSync had been thrown into question as founder and CEO and founder Travis Bond unexpectedly departed, kicking off multiple rounds of layoffs. But that was all in...
Updated: 6 minutes ago
Coal and gas hold onto their share of electricity production, despite massive push for renewables

Coal and gas hold onto their share of electricity production, despite massive push for renewables

Here’s an intriguing set of facts: Coal produces the same percentage of the world’s electricity as it did 20 years ago. Oil and gas remained about level, too.Same for non-fossil fuel sources. In other words, the massive push towards renewables over t...
Updated: 8 minutes ago
Pride divided no more: St. Pete Pride comes back together

Pride divided no more: St. Pete Pride comes back together

ST. PETERSBURG — The 16th annual St. Pete Pride Parade is getting ready to march along the downtown waterfront the second straight year. But many hope to move past the division caused last year when the parade was uprooted from its original hom...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Brink: Why have Florida’s working-age men left the labor market in droves

Brink: Why have Florida’s working-age men left the labor market in droves

A cancer lurks within Florida’s otherwise rosy job numbers, one that’s has been called a quiet catastrophe and an intractable time bomb.Too many men between the ages of 25 and 54 have stopped working.Economists call those the prime-age years. Incomes...
Updated: 5 hours ago
For sale: A Tampa Bay area elementary school where you can eat tacos and buy wine

For sale: A Tampa Bay area elementary school where you can eat tacos and buy wine

ST. PETERSBURG — For sale: a 104-year-old elementary school with restaurant and wine shop. It even has a title company where you can close the deal.Less than a year after completing a major renovation of the historic North Ward school, developer Jona...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Domain Homes: Buyers love them, some others don’t

Domain Homes: Buyers love them, some others don’t

TAMPA — When the 2008 financial crash brought down the nation’s housing market, hundreds of home builders went out of business. Among them was Sharon McSwain Homes in Atlanta, forced to liquidate in 2009.But just as developers like to develop, builde...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Armature Works developers sue Ulele and city of Tampa over use of nearby building

Armature Works developers sue Ulele and city of Tampa over use of nearby building

TAMPA — Two of the city’s hottest developers — the companies behind Ulele and the Armature Works — are heading to court over control of an old city building that sits between the hit eateries. Both want to redevelop the city&...
Published: 06/21/18
Orlando airport first to scan faces of U.S. citizens on international flights

Orlando airport first to scan faces of U.S. citizens on international flights

Associated PressFlorida’s busiest airport is becoming the first in the nation to require a face scan of passengers on all arriving and departing international flights, including U.S. citizens, according to officials there. The expected announcement T...
Published: 06/21/18
Saboteur or whistleblower? Battle between Elon Musk and former Tesla employee turns ugly, exposing internal rancor

Saboteur or whistleblower? Battle between Elon Musk and former Tesla employee turns ugly, exposing internal rancor

Hours after Tesla had sued its former employee on charges he had stolen company secrets, and days after chief Elon Musk had called him a saboteur, the Silicon Valley automaker made a startling claim. The company had received a call from a friend of t...
Published: 06/21/18
WTR Pool and Grille brings ‘fun dining’ pool party scene to Tampa

WTR Pool and Grille brings ‘fun dining’ pool party scene to Tampa

Mike Piper has traveled to Las Vegas and Miami and enjoyed the fun, daytime, party pool scene that the two cities have to offer.Now he aims to bring that same atmosphere to Tampa with a new dining and hang out spot. WTR Pool & Grill opened on Sunday ...
Published: 06/21/18