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Tampa Port Authority to buy Channelside

TAMPA, Florida -- Channelside may look quiet now, but don't expect it it to stay that way. In a bombshell announcement, the Tampa Port Authority has a tentative agreement to buy Channelside, and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn is psyched.

"I think it's the smartest thing we could do was to get control of it, take ownership of it, make whatever repairs are necessary, but more importantly, plan for a much brighter future," said Mayor Buckhorn.

PHOTOS: Channelside Bay Plaza, as it is today

The Irish bank that owned Channelside was essentially holding it hostage by waiting for the highest bidder. The purchase stops that. It was a complex journey to reach an agreement, but the port authority vote was swift and unanimous.

"All in favor say aye ... Aye! Opposed? ... Motion carries."

The agreement must still be approved by the courts. Then the port can find a buyer with big vision. Hillsborough County commissioner and TPA board member Sandra Murman said the sky's the limit.

"It's gonna bring tons of jobs, tons of economic development, the tax base will grow," said Murman.

Lightning owner Jeff Vinik, who was once interested in buying Channelside but backed out because of all the red tape, could play into its future.

"He's a great community hero and I hope he's very interested," said Murman.  

And when the mayor was asked about its implications for baseball?

"A vibrant, active retail center would compliment a stadium not that far away," said Mayor Buckhorn.

Follow 10 News Reporter Charles Billi on twitter @Charles Billi


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