Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Latest court battle begins over Channelside Bay Plaza's fate

[SKIP O'ROURKE   |   Times (2013)]

[SKIP O'ROURKE | Times (2013)]

The latest courtroom battle for Channelside Bay Plaza kicked off Tuesday in a federal bankruptcy court in Delaware. The core issue this time around is Tampa Bay Lighting owner Jeff Vinik's winning bid of $7.1 million for the failing downtown Tampa mall.

The results of the July 2 auction need the approval of U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Sontchi. But the outcome is being challenged by a group of local real estate investors, Liberty Channelside LLC, who have spent the past year fighting in court for control of the complex.

The Irish bank liquidators trying to sell the property want the judge to uphold Vinik's winning bid. They rested their case Tuesday. Liberty will start its case on Thursday.

Lawyers spent the day questioning one of the Channelside auctioneers: DJM Real Estate general counsel Ed Zimmer.

Liberty has alleged that the auction's main players — the bank liquidators, the Tampa Port Authority and the Vinik ownership group — colluded to ensure that Vinik won. Liberty pointed out that 77 entities expressed interest in bidding but only three showed up at the auction: Vinik, the port and Liberty.

And though the Tampa Port Authority was a competing bidder, it endorsed Vinik's plans for Channelside days before the auction.

"Did the port express any disappointment that they had lost the auction?" asked Liberty's attorney, John Anthony.

"No," Zimmer said.

"Did they express joy and happiness that Vinik had won the auction?" Anthony asked.

"I think this was a professional business meeting," Zimmer said.

But Zimmer also said this: "Had Liberty bid, it would have driven up the bidding."

That's because Liberty failed to bid on July 2. Van Durrer II, the attorney representing the liquidators, emphasized that Liberty could have tried to outbid Vinik in the auction.

"Was Liberty offered multiple opportunities to bid?" Durrer asked.

"Yes," Zimmer said

The witness also assessed Vinik's ownership group, CBP Development LLC, which won the auction with a $7.1 million bid and a $10 million letter of credit to fund a Channelside makeover.

"They followed all the steps," Zimmer said. "They very closely followed the bid procedures."

After Vinik won the auction, Liberty filed court documents offering to pay $10 million for Channelside. Anthony asked Zimmer if his real estate firm, which will be paid based on how much it gets for Channelside, would like to make as much money as possible from the sale.

"If you're asking me if I'd be happier with a higher commission," Zimmer said, "the answer is yes."

Contact Jamal Thalji at thalji@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3404. Follow @jthalji.

Latest court battle begins over Channelside Bay Plaza's fate 07/15/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 15, 2014 9:27pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Lightning takes defenseman Cal Foote with top pick in draft

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — Former Avalanche defenseman Adam Foote said his son Cal lived in the locker room.

    Cal Foote, second from left, is welcomed to the Lightning by GM Steve Yzerman, far left.
  2. It's Rays' turn to pound Orioles pitching (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG - Ah, the fantastic four.

    The Rays smashed the reeling Orioles 15-5 on Friday, scoring a season-high in runs, to climb four games above .500 for the first time since July 1, 2015.

    Rays third baseman Evan Longoria scores on a triple by Logan Morrison during the first inning against the Orioles.
  3. Lightning picks defenseman Cal Foote

    Blogs

    Cal Foote is the son of former Avs defenseman Adam Foote.
  4. Kids today: They don't work summer jobs the way they used to

    Business

    WASHINGTON — It was at Oregon's Timberline Lodge, later known as a setting in the horror movie The Shining, where Patrick Doyle earned his first real paycheck.

    Teens Ben Testa, from left, Hannah Waring and Abby McDonough, and Wegmeyer Farms owner Tyler Wegmeyer walk the strawberry rows at the Hamilton, Va., farm in late May.
  5. Jeb Bush back in the hunt for the Marlins, now opposing Derek Jeter

    Blogs

    Associated Press:

    Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has switched sides in pursuit of the Miami Marlins, and he’s trying to beat out former teammate Derek Jeter.