When Channelside opened more than a decade ago, it was considered Tampa's hottest night spot.
Since then, the entertainment complex has gone bankrupt and all but shut down.
"We don't mind getting our hands dirty. We know what it takes and we see the opportunity that rests in Channelside," said Punit Shah, co-owner of Liberty Channelside LLC.
Shah and his business partner say they're the ones who can turn it around. They met with hundreds of people who live and work in the Channelside District Wednesday night for a standing-room-only presentation. The developers say they want people's input and their support.
"The Channelside district in itself has exploded in the past few years. We want to make sure that Channelside caters to those residents and those businesses and the tourists that now frequent our city," Shah said.
People had varying opinions on what needs to be done to revitalize the area.
"I think its people having the opportunity to come and see something different. That's it more than anything else. I think it's a great place. Everybody loves being there when they're there." says Tony Jacobson, who works in Channelside.
"It needs more access to the water and a more dynamic plan to make it a daytime and evening property, where there's people there all day, and not only when a cruise ship comes in. So right now, if there's no cruise ship in Channelside, there's no activity inside." says Raj Patel, a commercial property owner in Channelside.
The developers plan to change that by adding an extra three or four floors for a hotel, along with new office space restaurants and shops, making it more of an all-hours destination.
"We're meeting with architects and engineers as we speak and going over every one of those details to get those studies done to show us how do we engage the consumer a little more, and how do we open up the structure. How do we create those dynamic water views that people really want to see?" Shah said.
The Tampa Port Authority owns the land and has final say over any deal. The governing board is expected to take up the issue of the sale in two weeks, during its meeting on May 21st.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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