Thursday, April 26, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Channelside needs civic-minded owner

This week's auction for Channelside Bay Plaza marks a pivotal moment for downtown Tampa. Having the right owner is key for the struggling retail center to be reborn as a magnet for growth in the Channel District. The Tampa Port Authority, which is bidding for Channelside, has acted responsibly in trying to steer this complex into responsible hands, and it needs to continue underscoring the public interest in finding stable, civic-minded owners.

The auction comes after a U.S. bankruptcy judge ordered in February that liquidators for the retail center "kick the tires" on Channelside in an effort to win higher bids for the waterfront complex on downtown's east side. That order followed a failed effort by the port, which owns the land under Channelside, to buy the complex outright from the Irish Bank Resolution Corp., which foreclosed on the property in 2010.

The port's previous bid and its intention to pursue Channelside at Wednesday's auction are both well-directed efforts to bring this strategic property under single, responsible ownership and local control. Channelside is a public asset that should be acting as a catalyst for new residential and business growth in the Channel District instead of flailing as a largely vacant retail center that cannot compete with Ybor City, the malls or South Tampa's SoHo entertainment district.

The next owner needs deep pockets; a new consultant's report shows that Channelside needs millions in upgrades at its existing facility for basics such as roofing, air conditioning and outdoor escalators. Those costs could pale in comparison to the expense of knocking down the existing building to open up Channelside to the waterfront and streetside entryway, a step that's needed to give the center fresh appeal in the competitive retail and dining market. The new owner should recognize how Channelside fits into the fabric and development of the waterfront. And it must offer an experience that creates a unique destination in downtown Tampa.

The disclosure over the weekend that Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik entered the bidding is encouraging. A company Vinik controls bid $7.1 million for Channelside, the highest offer so far. Vinik's ownership of the hockey franchise, his leasehold on the Tampa Bay Times Forum and his assembly of 23 acres in the channel district makes him uniquely suited to bring Channelside into a master plan for the area.

The port's active interest has driven negotiations in the right direction. It needs to ensure now that Channelside has the right owner, not simply a new one. And the bank needs to step it up; Channelside may be a blip on the radar screen for the Irish bank, but it's a vital asset here and the bank should bring an orderly end to the ownership saga. Only then can Channelside begin to create a new vision, a new look and a new niche in the market, and only then can the port get back to its primary business.

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Editorial: It’s up to Florida’s voters to restore felons’ civil rights now

The disappointing ruling Wednesday by a federal appeals court should erase any doubt that the decision on restoring voting rights for felons rests solely on the conscience of Florida voters. A tortured ruling by the minimum majority of a three-judge ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Editorial: St. Petersburg’s waste-to-energy to wastefulness project

Editorial: St. Petersburg’s waste-to-energy to wastefulness project

A St. Petersburg waste-to-energy plant now under construction has been billed for years as an environmentally friendly money saver. Now it looks more like a boondoggle, with the cost and mission changing on the fly. It’s yet another example of a city...
Published: 04/25/18
Updated: 04/26/18

‘Happy hour’ tax cuts may result in hangovers

Evidence is mounting that the $1.5 trillion tax-cut package enacted in December by congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump was a bad idea, not only for the long-run health of the economy but for the short-term political prospects of the ...
Published: 04/25/18
Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Writing a new law that phases out separate accreditation for the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and folds it back into the major research university was the easy part. The hard work starts today when a new consolidation task force holds i...
Published: 04/23/18
Updated: 04/25/18

Correction

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Published: 04/23/18
Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Not too many people took then-candidate Donald Trump seriously when he famously campaigned to "drain the swamp" as president. But that shouldn’t give this administration a free pass to excuse the behavior of Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Env...
Published: 04/22/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Florida lawmakers may never take the death penalty off the books, but stronger forces are steadily eroding this inhumane, outdated tool of injustice. Court rulings, subsequent changes to law and waning public support have significantly suppressed the...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/24/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/23/18