TAMPA — Savvy air travelers have several options for getting through airport security quicker. One of those is the Transportation Security Administration's "precheck" program, which allows fliers to undergo background checks in advance of their flights, so that they can get into the expedited screening lines at airports.
But Tampa Bay travelers had a problem: There was no local precheck center for them to apply in person. Cities like Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Jacksonville have such offices....
TAMPA — Hillsborough County Commissioner Victor Crist was being very serious Thursday when he raised a subject that caused the rest of the crowd to start giggling uncontrollably:
What should Tampa International Airport do if Florida voters or legislators approve the use of medicinal marijuana?
Crist sits on the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority board, which runs TIA. He immediately said to media attending the board meeting that he was not weighing in on the issue itself....
TAMPA — A day after Gov. Rick Scott made a $194 million pledge to help pay for the biggest expansion in Tampa International Airport history, the board that governs the airport cut its first big check for the project.
The Hillsborough County Aviation Authority voted Thursday to pay Austin Commercial up to $29.9 million to design and oversee construction of the newest additions to the airport....
Gov. Scott announces $194 million in state funds to help expand Tampa International Airport (w/video)03/05/14Airlines
TAMPA — Gov. Rick Scott wants to tout the biggest transportation budget in state history as he campaigns for re-election. Tampa International Airport CEO Joe Lopano needs state money to help fund the biggest expansion in airport history.
These two guys should get together.
That's exactly what they did Wednesday as Gov. Scott announced in front of TV cameras and an adoring throng of local officials that he earmarked $194 million to help pay for the expansion of TIA....
TAMPA — The sign was metal. It hung over the highway. Its message was spelled out in white letters over a black background: "Welcome to Tampa International Airport."
But back when Joe Lopano applied for the airport's top job in 2010, he didn't feel welcomed.
"My impression was that this is nothing but a roadway sign that tells you where you are," said Lopano, now the airport CEO. "But it doesn't welcome you."...
TAMPA — The Tampa Port Authority board still wants to buy Channelside — and they're willing to up their offer.
"If it requires a little more capital to get the deal done, to satisfy the judge, I would be open to it," said Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who sits on the board.
Last month a federal bankruptcy judge scuttled the port's first attempt to buy the 234,520-square-foot outdoor mall for $5.75 million. But a majority of the board told the Tampa Bay Times they still support their original plan: The public agency should buy Channelside from the Irish bank that foreclosed on the property and then pick a private developer to turn the downtown icon around....
02/26/14 Economic Development
ConnectWise, which sells information technology software, support and expertise to other IT companies, plans to invest $1.28 million to add 112 jobs to its Tampa operation by 2016.
That news brought the bipartisan trinity of high-tech job evangelists — Gov. Rick Scott, Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Hillsborough County Commission Chairman Mark Sharpe — out to the company's headquarters Wednesday to celebrate the news with ConnectWise's founding brothers: chief executive officer Arnie Bellini and chief operating officer David Bellini....
The good news, long expected by tourism officials, is finally official: Pinellas County has become Florida's sixth "high tourism impact" county.
Pinellas collected $31.8 million in tourist development taxes in calendar year 2013. Also known as the bed tax, it's a 5 percent surcharge added to the bill of every hotel room and accommodation rented out for less than six months. The 2013 figure makes it four consecutive years that Pinellas tourist tax collections have increased from the year before....
TAMPA — Officials at Tampa International Airport aren't surprised TIA once again ranked high in the 2013 Airport Service Quality Awards compiled by the Airports Council International.
What did surprise them was that the airport actually improved its grades for quality and service while the interior of the main terminal underwent a major renovation.
Maintaining that level of service will become even more important now that Tampa International is about to undergo its biggest project in years: $1 billion in new construction and upgrades set to be finished by 2017....
TAMPA — Santosh Govindaraju and Punit Shah, who won their lawsuit to stop the Tampa Port Authority from buying Channelside Bay Plaza, said Wednesday that's not enough.
Even after everything they've been through, they still want to buy the troubled, nearly-empty downtown retail center.
The principal investors in Liberty Channelside LLC said at a press conference that they think they can do a better job of turning it around than the port....
TAMPA — The Tampa Port Authority's dream deal to buy Channelside Bay Plaza turned into a legal nightmare Tuesday.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Sontchi killed the port's agreement to purchase the most tormented piece of real estate in Tampa Bay for $5.75 million from the Irish bank that owns the mortgage on the foreclosed — and these days, seemingly accursed — outdoor mall....
TAMPA — The Tampa Port Authority took steps on Tuesday to secure its immediate future — and its far-flung future.
First, the port's governing board voted to spend $320,000 in federal grant money to buy a new security system that will incorporate different monitoring devices — such as security cameras, motion sensors and radar — into one comprehensive system that will secure the port by land and sea....
02/14/14 Economic Development
Punit Shah and Santosh Govindaraju finally got their day in court on Friday.
The bay area real estate investors who tried and failed to buy Channelside Bay Plaza last year — their bid blew up amid allegations of harsh language and unfair dealing — are suing to kill the deal struck by the current bidder for the downtown complex: the Tampa Port Authority.
The pair even came to federal court in Delaware with a $7 million cashier's check — guaranteed by the bank — to prove that their venture, Liberty Channelside LLC, is ready to buy the complex as soon as possible....
02/13/14 Economic Development
TAMPA — The term "game changer" is a cliche. But to Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, it also perfectly describes the new Copa Airlines route connecting Tampa Bay to Latin America.
The flights started in December, giving the bay area its first connection to a major Latin American hub, Panama City. From there, the rest of Central and South America is just one connecting flight away.
"That was a game changer for us," Buckhorn said. "I know that is used frequently and oftentimes overused, but it fits this situation."...
TAMPA — Punit Shah and Santosh Govindaraju still want to buy Channelside Bay Plaza — and they're ready to buy it right now.
The Liberty Channelside LLC investors have drawn up a $7 million cashier's check that their lawyer is ready to deliver to a federal judge in Delaware as soon as today to buy Channelside. That form of payment is guaranteed by the bank.
It's part theatrics, part legal strategy. Liberty wants to disrupt the Tampa Port Authority's deal to buy Channelside for $5.75 million from the Irish bank that foreclosed on it. By ending the port's deal, Liberty hopes to resurrect its old offer to buy the long-suffering outdoor mall....