June 23--TAMPA -- Though a formal auction for Channelside Bay Plaza isn't here yet, the public might find out who a few of the potential bidders are, and get a peek at their plans to take over the struggling Channel District complex.
Port Tampa Bay has scheduled a 3 p.m.June 30 special public meeting at the port's offices to hear presentations by "prospective bidders" for control of the property that sits on port-owned land. That's two days before an auction scheduled by a Delaware federal bankruptcy judge who is overseeing the winding down of assets held by the Irish Bank Resolution Corp., which is effectively running Channelside through a court-appointed receiver.
The port is hosting the hearing of bidders, but is also a bidder in the contest as well. The governing body of the port on June 17 authorized its representatives to participate in the auction with a beginning bid of $5.75 million, and then "whatever it takes" to win the bidding after that.
The port has this dual role in part because it owns the ground underneath Channelside (the mall operator is the "tenant"), and also because the lease for that property gives the port a so-called "veto" power over any changes from one tenant to another.
The identity of bidders is sealed by the federal bankruptcy court unless the bidders self-disclose, and the only other bidder besides the port that's widely known is the Tampa-based combination Liberty Group and Convergent Capital that had offered $7 million in court for the property -- a move that triggered this latest round of bidding. Attorneys for the development pair declined to say if they will make a presentation at the Port's June 30 event, but the pair "remains earnest in its efforts to acquire Channelside Plaza," despite "legal complications."
Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik has also expressed interest in Channelside over the years, particularly because his team plays in the Forum just down the street, but he has not commented on his immediate plans. According to court documents, more than 60 potential bidders at one time signed confidentiality agreements to review documents about Channelside.
However, the July 2 bidding proceeds, lawyers in charge of the process expect to present results of the auction to the Delaware court on July 15.
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