Thursday, June 21, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Channelside bid looks promising

Until the terms are nailed down, it's impossible to judge whether a developer's bid to take over Channelside Bay Plaza is fair to taxpayers and promising for downtown Tampa. But the concept sketched out last week includes key elements that are essential for reviving the waterfront retail and entertainment complex. The Tampa Port Authority, which must approve any deal, should ensure that the package is financially sound and contributes long term to the development of the entire Channel District.

Real estate investors Punit Shah and Santosh Govindaraju announced that their new joint venture, Liberty Channelside LLC, has signed an agreement to purchase Channelside's lease from the Irish Bank Resolution Corp., which foreclosed on the property in 2010 after the former leaseholder defaulted on a $27 million loan. As the owner of the land under Channelside, the Port Authority has veto power over any deal. Its governing board may take up the proposal at its May 21 meeting.

Assigning the lease to the investors group has immediate benefits. It takes the operation of Channelside out of legal limbo, puts it in local hands and clears the way for millions of dollars in capital upgrades to the well-worn facility. The business plan calls for a new tenant mix that could freshen Channelside with new office space, restaurants and shops and make it more of an all-hours destination. And the new management would market the complex as part of a dynamic environment taking shape in the downtown core. All of these moves build the tax base, bolster the city's investment in parking garages and mass transit, and add to the vibrancy of everyday life that will help Tampa grow.

But the board needs to vet the terms to ensure the deal is fair and that Liberty Channelside is the right fit. The expected budget for capital improvements to the facility needs to be more precise than a range between $3 million and $7 million. The developers need to put concrete assurances behind their pledge to maintain a "significant" budget for repairs and maintenance. A request that the port contribute $1 million toward an overhead pedestrian bridge connecting Channelside to its parking garage seems high, especially considering a request that the lease run for 40 years with renewals for up to 40 more. The group also wants the port to look at modifying requirements for on-site security by putting a police or sheriff's substation on the property. These provisions could add substantially over time to the public costs of the lease, and the port board should not give away the farm in exchange for hiring stable management.

Still, the developers have local ties, a history in Tampa and a vested interest in strengthening downtown. They make a point of saying that Channelside must be transformed in ways that benefit the surrounding neighborhoods. These are solid assurances at the outset. The port authority needs to negotiate hard on the details, for the Channel District is valuable property. But it is promising news that an offer to break the stalemate over Channelside is up for public discussion.

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Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

The shocking scenes of immigrant children crying after being taken from their parents at the border exposed a new level of cruelty by the Trump administration, and though the president reversed course Wednesday, Congress needs to end the shameful pra...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18
Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Forty years ago today, Nelson Poynter died. He was the last individual to own this newspaper, and to keep the Times connected to this community, he did something remarkable. He gave it away.In his last years, Mr. Poynter recognized that sooner or lat...
Published: 06/15/18

There was no FBI anti-Trump conspiracy

The Justice Department released Thursday the highly anticipated report on the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe and other sensitive issues in the 2016 election. It is not the report President Donald Trump wanted. But there is enough i...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Voter purge may be legal, but it’s also suppression

The Supreme Court’s ruling last Monday to allow Ohio’s purging of its voter rolls is difficult to dispute legally. While federal law prohibits removing citizens from voter rolls simply because they haven’t voted, Ohio’s purge is slightly different. T...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Editorial: Free rides will serve as a test of whether the streetcar is serious transportation

Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to ride for free?This fall, the TECO Streetcar Line eliminates its $2.50-a-ride-fare, providing the best opportunity yet to see whether the system’s vintage streetcar replicas can serve as a legitimate transportation a...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

AT&T and the case for digital innovation

A good way to guarantee you’ll be wrong about something is to predict the future of technology. As in, "One day, we’ll all …" Experts can hazard guesses about artificial intelligence, driverless cars or the death of cable television, but technologica...
Published: 06/14/18