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The Biz: An inside look at bay area business newsmakers

When Sembler announced the long-sought deal last week to sell its controlling interest in St. Petersburg's BayWalk entertainment center, there was one notable absence.

Craig Sher, Sembler chairman emeritus and the face behind BayWalk's emergence, ups and downs, was more than 3,000 miles away at the time — on a fly fishing trip with some buddies in Alaska.

Thursday's announcement should have been a denouement for Sher, who was the front man when the $50-million BayWalk was born eight years ago, when it was hailed for sparking a downtown renaissance and when it took heat for its reputation as a hangout for rowdy teens.

In recent years, as Sembler has tried to find a buyer for the project, tenants have griped about the image and lobbied for enhanced marketing. Many of the original tenants have leases coming due over the next three years, and one major tenant, Muvico, had threatened to pull out by year's end if something didn't change. When Sembler put BayWalk on the market last year, then-Sembler CEO Sher sounded an optimistic tone.

"We're proud of our BayWalk legacy," he said at the time. "It's still a central meeting place and public forum. It hasn't been without its issues, but that's a measure of its success."

Swimming champ Phelps' mom dives in as Chico's endorser

Once hot, now tepid women's clothing chain Chico's FAS of Fort Myers last week signed Debbie Phelps, mother of eight-gold-medal Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps, to an endorsement deal. Chico's executives noticed Debbie Phelps was wearing Chico's clothing at the swimming venue in Beijing, cheering on her son's record-setting performance. Go to to view the Debbie Phelps Collection "summer games look."

FDIC boss' power rises along with bank crisis

For good reason, bankers can get nervous in hard times when the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. shows up. Last week, FDIC chairwoman Sheila Bair was in Sarasota telling 500 bankers at a Florida Bankers Association dinner at the Hyatt Regency that she expects third-quarter bank profits will be lower than the "pretty dismal" numbers from three months earlier. "We haven't seen the bottom of the credit cycle yet," she said. In good times, running the FDIC is an obscure job. So here's an indicator times have changed. Forbes magazine just named Bair as the world's second most powerful woman, behind Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany.

Former grocery executive takes a seat as Badcock's new CEO

W.S. Badcock Corp., the 300-store furniture chain based in Mulberry, finally made official what's been expected for some time. Mike Price, a 48-year-old former Food Lion executive who has been Badcock chief operating officer, will take over as chief executive on New Year's Day. He follows Don Marks, 61, who is retiring after 10 years as the first nonfamily member to run the 104-year-old company. Three Badcock brothers — Ben, Henry and Wogan — rotate the job of chairman, with Ben currently filling the role.

Ad agencies turn up volume in national band faceoff

The Tampa Bay area's advertising community is about to get a dose of national attention, thanks to their musical prowess. Two agencies in the region — Clarke/Eric Mower and Associates, a Sarasota-based agency with offices through the country, and Pyper Paul Kenny, a Tampa agency — are finalists for Advertising Week's national Battle of the Ad Bands. EMA's band, Crankdaddy, and Pyper Paul Kenny's band, The Tape Delay, are among six that will square off live on Sept. 24 in New York. More details of the competition are at www.advertising

The Biz: An inside look at bay area business newsmakers 09/07/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 2, 2010 4:02pm]
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