A lot of businesses have recently bolted from Channelside – the cinemas, Stumps and Howl and the Moon just to name a few.
But now there is a plan to bring business back to the struggling area, and Santosh Govindaraju – one half of Liberty Channelside LLC, which is going to buy the complex – says he knows how to do it.
Though a legal hiccup briefly delayed their plans, Govindaraju told FOX 13 there is no long-term issue going forward, and the group expects to close on the deal soon.
Govindaraju says the group has a contract with the bank, and they're just waiting for the Port of Tampa – owners of the land – to approve it.
"It's broken. The issue is that what Channelside was when it was developed 12 years ago is very different from what it is today," he said Wednesday morning.
The biggest change: People.
More people are living in the area, Govindaraju said, and the plan is to make Channelside an outdoor "living room" in the neighborhood. He also said he wants more people flowing through, so a new hotel is first on the books – as is an office complex.
"Retail thrives when there are bodies there," he said.
"It's not going to be an entertainment center in the future," he continued. "We want it to be a lifestyle center. We want this to be the living room for residents of the Channel District, Harbor Island and downtown."
Though many have agreed a grocery store is needed in the area, Govindaraju said there are no plans right now to add one. He said the plan is to add a gym, fast-food dining, revamped sit-down dining and even an upscale movie theater.
Liberty Channelside LLC is expected to get approval May 21 and then close on the property in early June. By Fall, he expects to unveil the "New Channelside."
There is an event Wednesday night at 5:30 at the Florida Aquarium. The public is encouraged to give input on what they'd like to see there. The group is also suggesting people tweet their thoughts using the hashtag #newchannelside.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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