05/17/13 Real Estate
TAMPA — Liberty Channelside LLC said it made personal apologies to the Tampa Port Authority staff on Friday and that it would restart negotiations over the stalled sale of Channelside Bay Plaza on Monday.
Liberty, a partnership of local real estate developers Santosh Govindaraju and Punit Shah, has a deal in place to buy the beleaguered retail center's lease from the Irish Bank that foreclosed on it in 2010. But the Tampa Port Authority owns the land under the complex, and its governing board must approve any deal to sell the property....
05/16/13 Real Estate
TAMPA — The sale of Channelside Bay Plaza is stymied by more than just a business dispute.
Now it's getting personal.
The Tampa Port Authority and the Liberty Channelside LLC ownership group are divided over the port's demand that Liberty put up $8 million in escrow before moving the deal forward.
The port owns the land under Channelside, and its governing board must approve the sale....
05/15/13 Real Estate
TAMPA — The latest effort to save Channelside Bay Plaza is at a standstill.
After two weeks of nonstop negotiations, Liberty Channelside LLC came to an impasse on Wednesday with the Tampa Port Authority over its proposed purchase of the failing downtown waterfront entertainment and retail complex.
The Tampa Port Authority staff wants Liberty Channelside and its principals, real estate investor Santosh Govindaraju and hotel developer Punit Shah, to pay $8 million in escrow up front before allowing the port's governing board to vote on the deal. The Tampa Port Authority owns the land Channelside was built on, so the board must approve any sale of the lease....
CLEARWATER — March is traditionally the strongest month of the year for the local tourism industry. But Pinellas County has never had a March like this one: It collected a record $4.9 million in taxes from tourism.
That makes March 2013 the best tourism month in county history and the closest Pinellas has ever come to hitting the $5 million mark in a single month.
"It's record-breaking," said county tourism chief D.T. Minich. "It's pretty mind-boggling."...
Tampa Bay marked National Tourism Week with luncheons and pep rallies, speeches and PowerPoint presentations to thank those who work in the bay area's most important industry.
But amid all the cheering and back-slapping, tourism week also offered important glimpses of the industry's future: China. Smartphones. Public dollars.
It was also a coming out party for one of the most important figures in Tampa Bay tourism: Santiago Corrada, the new president of Visit Tampa Bay & Co., the tourism agency of Tampa and Hillsborough County....
05/09/13 Real Estate
TAMPA — It has been a rough spring for Jeff Vinik, at least by multimillionaire standards.
His hockey team, the Tampa Bay Lightning, missed the playoffs. He decided to close his multibillion-dollar hedge fund, Vinik Asset Management LP. And he is no longer involved in the restoration of Channelside Bay Plaza.
But Vinik still has grand plans for his hockey team, his charitable foundation and, particularly, his considerable downtown real estate holdings....
TAMPA — Rick Drury has seen the misery up close. The downturn. The empty storefronts. The foreclosure crisis. And that's just outside his front door.
That's because he's one of the last surviving tenants at Channelside Bay Plaza. The owner of Precinct Pizza came to Wednesday night's town hall meeting to hear how the prospective new owners of the building plan to revitalize a key but long-suffering piece of downtown real estate....
CLEARWATER BEACH — The future of tourism can be summed up in two words: China and smartphones.
That's what hospitality industry leaders were told at the 2013 Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the Sheraton Sand Key Resort on Tuesday, which coincided with National Tourism Week.
David Downing, the deputy director of Pinellas County's tourism agency, Visit St. Pete/Clearwater, started off the panel discussion by noting the coming dominance of Chinese travel....
TAMPA — The name Tampa Bay & Co. will be gone by the end of the month.
That's when the tourism agency that markets Tampa and Hillsborough County will unveil its new name. But Santiago Corrada, the agency's new CEO, wouldn't reveal that new brand during a tourism pep rally at Tampa International Airport. He said the new name would better describe the agency's purpose while still incorporating it with the greater Tampa Bay region, especially the beaches of Pinellas County....
TAMPA — Roger Dow broke down the impact of tourism on the American economy like this: 33 international travelers visiting this country generates one job here.
"Every plane that lands," Dow said, "can bring up to nine jobs with it."
Those were the kinds of factoids that made Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, the ideal speaker to kick off National Tourism Week at Tampa International Airport on Monday morning....
Sand like sugar. Skies as blue as cornflowers. Waves of gentle turquoise.
That idyllic portrait of the Pinellas beaches is one that D.T. Minich has painted all over Europe and South America. Last week the Pinellas County tourism chief introduced the beaches of Clearwater Beach, Fort De Soto, Caladesi and Honeymoon Islands to a brand-new market:
"When they saw the blue skies and pure water and white sandy beaches, they were just like 'Wow,' " Minich said. "They were blown away. A couple of people asked me if this was real."...
04/26/13 Economic Development
TAMPA — In 2006 the old downtown Mercantile Bank building sold for $9 million. The plan was to tear it down and build a 50-story condo tower. Oh, those were the days.
Then the downturn hit, and the real estate bubble collapsed. The building was in foreclosure when two investors stepped in last year and offered to pay cash at a severely discounted price — $2.2 million — and they wanted to close in just 10 days....
CLEARWATER — The Tony Jannus Award is named for the pioneer who gave birth to the commercial aviation industry right here in Tampa Bay: Jannus piloted an airboat from St. Petersburg to Tampa on Jan. 1, 1914.
The award named after him was given Wednesday to another giant of the commercial aviation industry: Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson.
Anderson, 57, who joined Delta in 2007, was honored for being a "strategic risk-taker" and a "big-picture visionary." Under Anderson, Delta merged with Northwest Airlines, bought its own oil refinery to reduce fuel costs and in 2012 became the world's largest airline....
TAMPA — Channelside Bay Plaza is the Walking Dead of Tampa Bay real estate.
The entertainment complex has been foreclosed upon and nearly abandoned by the businesses that once filled it. Purported saviors have come and gone. Cruise ship passengers might think it's the world's biggest Hooters — one of its last tenants. The redevelopment of downtown's Channel District cannot continue while it straddles the line between life and death....
TAMPA — Steve Burton lived as though the finish line were just around the corner.
He had no choice. In 2009, his older brother and fellow lawyer, Glenn Burton, died of a heart attack at age 51. Yet even as his own heart failed him, Steve Burton could not afford to slow down. The lawyer dedicated himself to his sons, his clients, his community — and Tampa International Airport....