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Channelside alters leasing course

The Tampa retail complex has few tenants months after it was to compete with Centro Ybor. Now it has a new national leasing agent.

[Times photo: Stefanie Boyar]
While Channelside is built, the 230,000-square-foot complex has little more than a 10-screen theater and the Pop City center open.

By KYLE PARKS

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 4, 2001


TAMPA -- Casting a wider net for tenants, the troubled Channelside movie/restaurant/retail complex has brought in one of the real estate world's heavy hitters as its leasing agent.

CB Richard Ellis, which has more than 400 retail brokers across the country, started representing the project this week. The El Segundo, Calif., company replaces the Hogan Group, the Tampa company that developed Channelside but has struggled to get it leased.

"Channelside has needed national exposure, and now it will have that," said Sim Wilson, a senior asset services manager in CB Richard Ellis' Tampa office.

Orix Real Estate Equity Corp., the Chicago company that is funding the $49-million project, is willing to be patient as CB Richard Ellis gets to work -- but only to a point.

"We want to be able to get good tenants that are going to be long-term, and that takes time," Wilson said. "But of course, the Orix people wish it was fully leased by now."

Channelside, located in downtown Tampa's Garrison Seaport district, has little more than a 10-screen movie theater and the Pop City entertainment center open, months after it was supposed to be a full-fledged competitor to the Centro Ybor complex a mile away.

Charley's Crab, touted as one of its restaurant anchors, isn't a definite, it turns out. And though several new bars -- including Howl at the Moon and Stump's Supper Club -- are opening soon, the 230,000-square-foot Channelside complex still has few retail shops.

CB Richard Ellis is a major player in Tampa Bay area commercial real estate, with 75 employees in its Tampa office. It hasn't made retail a focus locally until now, but nationwide it manages more than 60-million square feet of retail space.

As it gets started with Channelside, the company's brokers have analyzed similar waterfront retail projects in Baltimore and San Diego. Their solution for Channelside: get restaurants and shops that will become destinations, with about 80 percent of them new to the area.

Officials at the Hogan Group, who have tried for several years to attract such tenants, said they were all for the switch in leasing agents.

"We met with the Orix people and realized it was time to do this," said John Twomey of the Hogan Group. "This also now allows us to spend more time thinking about our other projects."

Unlike CB Richard Ellis, the Hogan Group doesn't have a national presence. Its operations center on the South Florida, Tampa Bay and Atlanta markets.

"We got Channelside built and now we have completed our task," Twomey said. "It was time to turn the leasing and management over to a national company."

- Kyle Parks can be reached at parks@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3405.

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