Group planning Channelside takeover shares plans with 10 News

1:49 PM, May 8, 2013   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida -- A group will show their plans to take over and revitalize Tampa's Channelside on Wednesday afternoon. 10 News talked with them about their big ideas.

Right now, about half of the spaces at Channelside are empty.

But a new ownership group says if they get the green light from the port to take over in just two weeks, not only will they eventually fill those empty spaces, but they'll also fill space above the complex with a new two-story hotel.

Empty is the enemy. Developer Santosh Govindaraju and his partners say they have the right plan to fill this place with people at all hours of the day and night.

"We've got residents living, working, and playing here. So we want to make Channelside cater to them -- an extension of their residences -- make this their living room," said Govindaraju, a principal with a Bay Area-based partnership called Liberty Channelside, LLC.

It would also be their office, kitchen, and guest bedroom -- with a two-story hotel built on top of much of the existing center.

"A hotel will bering traffic 24/7. Office will bring traffic during lunchtime and keep this place busy and hustling," Govindaraju said.

Say goodbye to the treacherous crosswalk that leads from the parking garage to the shopping area today.

The potential buyers want to add a pedestrian bridge high above the street and make other changes to create a new, sweeping "sense of arrival" for folks who live near or visit Channelside.

"We want more windows," Govindaraju said. "When people drive by Channelside, we want them to see people walking with a lot of foot traffic and activity. We want them to see people eating and drinking outside."

In two weeks, they're hoping for a yes vote from the Tampa Port Authority to take over the complex and start a revitalization.

"We've got the contract from the bank that controls this property right now. So we're the first group the bank has vetted and signed a contract with," Govindaraju said. "At this point, we have to obtain the port's approval."

This group's desire to create a new "sense of arrival" extends even off the property. They say they want to ask the City of Tampa to create a loop of one-way streets out of the roads in front of Channelside.

It would make traffic and parking easier to navigate, they say, and make it more comfortable for folks to come to the area.

You can give the developers your input and hear more details at a town hall meeting on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at The Florida Aquarium. It's open to everyone. You can also tweet your thoughts using hashtag #newchannelside.

Grayson Kamm, 10 News

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