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Condo collector's shelving business in bankruptcy

TAMPA - A Tampa man who tied up some of the area's most exclusive penthouse condos during the housing boom has filed for bankruptcy in his less-flashy core business, racks and shelving. Alan Bridges filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Monday in Tampa both personally and on behalf of his business, Allpoints Warehousing Equipment Co. His company does business as Got Rack and Got-Rack.com, the bankruptcy filing shows. Chapter 11 bankruptcy allows a company to reorganize its finances while protected from creditors. Allpoints Warehousing Equipment intends to continue operating, said the company's bankruptcy attorney, Harley Riedel. Bridges caught the high-end condominium industry's attention in the 2000s by buying or putting money down on a string of luxury condo units, some of which never were built.
Bridges owned a 19th-floor penthouse on Tampa's Harbour Island, which he accented in stainless steel and outfitted with a dozen plasma TVs, the Tribune reported in 2005. It was to be his prototype for other purchases. He also put down money on a 6,000-square-foot penthouse unit in the now-defunct Trump Tower project in downtown Tampa. The purchase price was more than $6 million. Finally, he reserved penthouse condos in several other condo projects in downtown Tampa, including at least two in the Channel District and at least one at a penthouse in a St. Petersburg project. His plan was to buy the units unfinished, build them into luxurious bachelor pads and market them to the wealthy and professional athletes. "My target market is a 29-year-old pro athlete who's just signed a multimillion-dollar contract. Or a gazillionaire who just got divorced," Bridges told the Tribune then. "Girls walk in these places and just go 'Wow.' " It was unclear what happened to his real estate ventures, because Bridges did not return a reporter's call Monday. Riedel, his attorney, said the penthouse condos did not really factor into Bridges' or his shelving company's bankruptcy filings. In one exception, Bridges is giving back a condo in St. Petersburg to Regions Bank, Riedel said. Bridges was forced to seek bankruptcy because his business' loans from Regions Bank had matured and he wasn't able to refinance them. The bank had filed a foreclosure lawsuit against Allpoints Warehousing equipment last year and says it is owed at least $5.5 million. In its bankruptcy filing, Allpoints Warehousing Equipment lists estimated assets of $1 million to $10 million and liabilities of the same amount. Bridges' company often purchased shelving when, say, a home improvement store closed. It then would cut the shelving and resell it at a discount. The company's sales were about $9 million in 2004, Bridges said. Dave Shank, an executive at a competing rack and shelving business called Deluxe Systems, on Monday said the economy has hit the industry hard. Three or four of Shank's competitors have shut down in the last year or so, he said.

msasso@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7865
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