Yet another pivotal moment comes today in the long and tangled legal fight over Channelside Bay Plaza.
A federal bankruptcy court in Delaware is scheduled to hear and review results of an auction for control of the long-struggling retail and shopping complex on the waterfront downtown.
Now largely empty except for a few still-surviving tenants, Channelside and the neighborhood around it have seen their fates kicked around several courtrooms across the country.
Though Port Tampa Bay owns the land under Channelside, the port technically rents out the space to a mall operator, and more than one operator has left the property faltering. Most recently, the Irish bank that held a mortgage on the above-ground structure filed bankruptcy.
A federal bankruptcy court in Delaware is now unwinding billions of dollars in that bank’s assets, including the Channelside mortgage. That court ordered an auction for control of Channelside and on July 2 Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik prevailed with a bid of $7.1 million for the lease on the property as well as a $10 million letter of credit the port could use to begin maintenance fixes and upgrades on the site.
However, Vinik isn’t the only one pursuing Channelside.
The Tampa-based partnership of Liberty Group and Convergent Capital claim they had a pre-existing deal with the Irish bank for Channelside, and they’ve been tangling with the port for months over the site. They did not make a bid at the recent Channelside auction, and instead filed paperwork with the court last week claiming they can pay $10 million.