Retailers caught in Channelside crossfire - FOX 13 News

Retailers caught in Channelside crossfire

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

When Pia Scott moved to here from Australia, she was determined to open her own surf shop, and she thought Channelside was the perfect spot.

"The vision I have here with Channelside when I drove by, this was the place I wanted to open my store," Scott said.

The location is prime, near downtown and right on the water. Years ago, this was a happening place. These days, it's become somewhat of a ghost town.

"We fight every day to keep our doors open and we fight hard," she said.

The fight got even rougher Tuesday when a federal judge struck down a deal that would've allowed the Port of Tampa to buy the Channelside real estate from the Irish Bank Resolution Corp.

The Port owns the land, the bank owns the mortgage on the buildings. The complicated legal battles only serve as more frustration for retailers desperately waiting for turn around.

"We really are the victims, we're caught in the crossfire," Scott said.

"To see your dreams you help build go down the toilet, it isn't fun. It hurts," said Guy Revelle, co-owner of Splitsville.

Last year, the Liberty Group stepped up, making a $7 million to offer to buy the property. But talks with the Port fell apart.

There were claims of strong language and racism thrown around in the negotiations. But despite it all, the group said today it's still interested in a deal.

"Let's start a level playing field. Let's agree on a bidding procedures, and let's more forward with a win-win situation," said attorney John Anthony.

"Whoever buys Channelside needs to look at it as long-term business decision, not short-term investment," said Revelle.

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