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  1. Business

Theater is latest to close at Channelside Bay Plaza

Published Sep. 26, 2012

TAMPA — After a private screening of the comedy Seven Psychopaths, and with a clear disdain for its landlord, the Channelside Cinemas closed for good Tuesday night.

The theater, which already was in bankruptcy court, becomes the latest business casualty in the struggling Channelside Bay Plaza entertainment and retail complex. Just about two weeks ago, Stump's Supper Club and the Howl at the Moon piano bar closed — likewise citing frustrations with a temporary landlord.

In notes posted on bright paper on its entrances, the cinema told customers that it had closed effective 11 p.m. Tuesday.

The notices said that because of "incompetent and gross mismanagement" of the complex, the theater was not able to stay open "under such deplorable and unsafe conditions."

The 14-year-old complex fell into receivership in 2010 after the former owner, New York's Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp., defaulted on a $27 million loan. The Vinik Group, headed by Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik, has been in negotiations to purchase the complex, but a deal has yet to be announced.

Acrimony between the cinema and the receiver played out in federal bankruptcy court last month when the landlord tried to keep the theater from hosting events affiliated with the Republican National Convention, held just down the street.

The theater had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2011. Its landlord asserted that the RNC events violated the cinema's lease, but the bankruptcy judge declined to side with it and said the events could go on. But at the time, none of the big political names mentioned in court papers as being interested — including Sarah Palin and Laura Bush — had signed contracts.

The theater closed Tuesday after screening a movie for a private group. The crime comedy shown, Seven Psychopaths, features Colin Farrell, Christopher Walken and Woody Harrelson.

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