New Channelside makeover

Rather than knock down Channelside Bay Plaza and start over, Santosh Govindaraju has another idea. Add a hotel, new restaurants, office space, and perhaps sort out the most common complaint he hears: Parking.

“We can’t change the past, we weren’t involved in the past,” Govindaraju said, strolling along the second floor of the complex, past the empty movie theater, past two empty restaurant spaces and past three empty nightclubs. “But we can change the future.”

Wednesday night was the first time residents of the area had a chance to meet face-to-face with Govindaraju, who represents Convergent Capital, and Punit Shah, who represents the other company partnering on the project, Liberty Capital.

More than 300 people packed a meeting room at The Florida Aquarium to hear their plans, and both questions and comments from the crowd were overwhelmingly positive.

After spending an undisclosed sum to acquire rights to the lease, the two companies could easily spend $9 million on renovating the site, and another $15 million to build a 150-room hotel that stretches three stories tall and wraps around much of the crescent-shaped second floor.

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