Reviving Tampa’s Channelside Bay Plaza
The Tampa Port Authority’s decision to buy Channelside Bay Plaza marks a fresh start for the retail center and a breakthrough for downtown. The move restarts the clock on turning a struggling public property into a thriving destination, and it gives the city more control over how Tampa’s channel district develops. Now the port needs to be as visionary in pairing Channelside with the right partner.
The port’s governing board voted unanimously Tuesday to buy the retail complex from the Irish Bank Resolution Corp. The $5.75 million deal is a bargain, given that the Irish bank foreclosed on the property after its previous owner defaulted on a $27 million loan. The port, which owns the land under Channelside, now also would assume control of the buildings and any third-party operating lease. By removing the bank from the picture, the port brings all decision-making under local control. And by purchasing Channelside for an affordable price, the port has a better shot at attracting a responsible operator who sees Channelside’s long-range potential.