Tampa, Florida -- A federal bankruptcy judgehas tossed out theTampa Port Authority's bid to buy Channelside.
"That's what we've been waiting for. As soon as we get through all of that, maybe something can be done with Channelside. We've been here eight years now; It's hard. We take it one day at a time," says a woman who works at a chocolate shop in the neglected complex.
It took six hours of testimony on Friday, for a federal judge to rule the IBRC, the Irish Bank, to work harder on getting a more substantial offer for Channelside. The ruling came down the following Tuesday.
To the attorney representing the Liberty Investment group, It's a small victory.
"My client won. The Port lost. The bank lost," says Attorney John Anthony.
Liberty attempted to purchase the district last year. That was blocked by the Port.
Last week, the group made another attempt. This time, going to court with a $7 million certified check in hand, and the argument that their private funding versus the Port's public and tax dollars, would make more sense for the community.
"We have the highest offer, the only feasible offer. It's time for us to work together."
The Port sent WTSP-10 News this statement, which reads in part:
"The bankruptcy court in Delaware ruled today that the [Irish Bank] must engage in additional due diligence to move forward in regard to the settlement of the Channelside Bay Plaza.
The Tampa Port Authority looks forward to continue to work with the special liquidators for the IBRC and the courts to find the best solution for Channelside and the Tampa Bay community."
So what's next for the Liberty group?
According to Anthony, because of the nature of a Chapter 15 bankruptcy case, they're unable to file a motion for what they want, but they believe a strong message has been sentto the court of what they want.
They'll be waiting, just like the rest of the community, on what the bank will decide to do.
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