Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Business

Tampa Port Authority officials to be questioned next week in Channelside lawsuit

TAMPA — Hundreds of pages of new documents have been filed in the Liberty Channelside LLC lawsuit against the Tampa Port Authority and the Irish bank as the parties continue their legal battle over the port's deal to buy Channelside Bay Plaza.

But the most concrete development will take place Tuesday: Liberty's lawyers will depose Tampa Port Authority officials at 1 p.m. at the Tampa office of Stratos Legal, a national court reporting firm.

Liberty tried to buy the lease to the Channelside building from the Irish Bank Resolution Corp. last year. But the negotiations stalled, then grew contentious. The port's governing board voted to end Liberty's bid. The port owns the land under Channelside, and has a say on who can buy the building. Then the port signed its own deal to buy the building.

That sale requires court approval from a federal bankruptcy judge in Delaware, who is overseeing the IBRC's American assets, and a Hillsborough County circuit judge. But Liberty sued to challenge the sale in federal court, delaying approval of the deal.

According to court documents filed Thursday in the bankruptcy court, Liberty wants the port to turn over documents regarding the Channelside deal and also wants to question port officials about several topics, including: negotiations and contact between the port and bank, between Liberty and the port, and any contact between port officials and "architects, financial advisors, engineers, urban planners" or similar professionals.

The document doesn't specifically state which port officials will be deposed. But it does name a few potential witnesses: Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandra Murman, who sits on the port's governing board; Raul Alfonso, the port's executive vice president and chief commercial officer; Charles Klug, the port's chief legal officer; Mike Macaluso, the port's chief financial officer; and Jim Renner, the vice president of real estate.

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