TAMPA — A $5.75 million deal by the Tampa Port Authority to purchase rights to the Channelside Bay Plaza complex on Port Tampa Bay-owned property is off following a federal bankruptcy judge’s decision Tuesday afternoon.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Sontchi in Delaware ruled that the Irish Bank Resolution Corp., which holds rights to Channelside Bay Plaza, must show additional due diligence to determine who might eventually take control of the entertainment, retail and food complex.
The additional due diligence will determine whether the port or another entity might purchase the financially distressed complex that has not fulfilled expectations of becoming a vibrant, downtown Tampa landmark.
The port authority had wanted to purchase the lease agreement and find a new operator for the Channelside complex.
An outside investment group, Liberty Channelside LLC, also wanted to buy the rights for the Channelside complex but had been rebuffed in May by the port, which holds title to the land lease and has rights of refusal for the operator.
Judge Sontchi contacted attorneys involved in the proceedings Tuesday in a telephone conference call and said the Irish Bank Resolution Corp. needed to show whether a better deal might be available than the $5.75 million proposal the port had offered.
“The Bankruptcy Court in Delaware ruled today that the IBRC must engage in additional due diligence to move forward in regard to the settlement of the Channelside Bay Plaza,” port officials said in a statement.
“The Tampa Port Authority looks forward to continue to work with the special liquidators for the IBRC and the courts to find the best solution for Channelside and the Tampa Bay community.”
Port officials would not comment further on the judge’s ruling. Punit Shah, of the Liberty Group, could not be reached for comment.