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Committee favors consultant to study Albert Whitted site

Veronica Brezina

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Albert Whitted Airport. Photo: City of St. Petersburg.

City administration members are favoring consultant HR&A to study future non-aviation uses at the 100-acre Albert Whitted Airport site in St. Petersburg.

The airport evaluation committee met behind closed doors in the Municipal Services Building Tuesday afternoon, hearing presentations from the two competing firms – New York-based HR&A Advisors and South Florida-based DK&P (Dover, Kohl and Partners).

HR&A would study the non-aviation uses at the airfield site, while DK&P would tackle the study on the future economic impact based on aviation uses.

The ranking of HR&A as the most qualified firm based on its relevant experiences follows the city reissuing its request for qualifications (RFQ). The RFQ was issued Dec. 22 and closed Feb. 9. 

While the two firms were proposing to study two different trajectories for the future of the waterfront airport site, only one consultant – HR&A -could be selected as the top consultant. 

The feedback from the evaluation committee members shed some light on HR&A’s and DK&P’s weaknesses and strengths. 

“[HR&A] has the complete picture. To me, they understand traditional airport planning and are strong on conceptual master planning. I think they are very qualified for this work,” Economic and Workforce Development Director Brian Caper said during the open public portion of the meeting. 

Airport Director Rich Lesniak echoed Caper’s comments, stating, “They gave a fairly detailed plan of attack already.”

Caper also noted HR&A detailed the quality of jobs that would be created as a result of the study; however, Caper said, HR&A’s 18-week study timeline seems aggressive. 

HR&A was one of the original proposers along with Kimley-Horn in the city’s initial solicitation process. 

Members said they were impressed by HR&A’s focus on sustainability and environmental risks pertaining to the site. 

Regarding DK&P’s qualifications, Caper commented, “They were very strong on master planning. They had a lot of good relevant examples as it relates to that aspect of this project, but they have a weakness: They don’t have that traditional airport planning [experience].”  

“At the end of the day, the study is looking at two avenues – one avenue is keeping the airport as an operating airport and another avenue is doing something different with it,” Lesniak said, sharing the consensus that DK&P’s lack of aviation master planning could be an issue.  

Based on each firm’s criteria, background experience with relevant project examples, project approach and inclusiveness, the committee scored HR&A the highest with 423 points. DK&P received 342 points. 

Next steps 

HR&A will now have to draft a proposal outlining the scope of the study.

“We are going to enter negotiations with them to do the study,” City Purchasing Manager Stephen Poceous said. HR&A will be nailing down the details of the project scope and monetary amount of the contract agreement. 

The contract is expected to be north of $75,000; thereby, the agreement will require city council approval. 

There isn’t a set date for the proposal to go before the city council, but local officials expect it would likely occur after the airport master plan is presented to the city in June. 

Regardless of the results of the proposal, if it proceeds forward, the city is still bounded by a federal agreement stipulating that the City of St. Petersburg must maintain the airport for at least 20 years. 

What you need to know about HR&A 

  • HR&A would work with engineering firm VHB and consultant firm Inclusivity LLC for the study. VHB has experience in airport planning and has worked on local projects, while Inclusivity would lead the team’s community engagement efforts.
  • The firm would collect quantitative and qualitative data on current airport operations, engage with active airport users and the broader St. Petersburg community and develop “ambitious but realistic scenarios for both the continuation of airport operations as well as repositioning and redevelopment,” according to submitted documents. 
  • HR&A is also the firm working with the city in drafting a term sheet and development agreement with the Tampa Bay Rays and Hines development group for a new baseball stadium, pending city approval. 
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12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Mike

    April 1, 2023at3:57 pm

    @hal. You’ve seen spinal tap? The mayor is the idiot with the amp that goes to eleven. Floyd and sanders too. They simply doesn’t grasp the notion that numbers are just a map to reality and not reality itself.

    It’s baffling. But that’s humanity.

  2. Avatar

    Mike

    April 1, 2023at3:46 pm

    @hal. The mayors platforms are explicitly adversarial to the law. The platforms are racist and sexist. The platforms are explicitly hostile to property owners in st Petersburg and explicitly hostile to productive sectors of the economy.

    It’s simply easier to buy votes on empty promises. The amount of blatant disregard for American ideals is endemic in America’s youth. No one sees why they have to work. No one sees why they have to pay. It’s easier to take from someone who actually earns because in their minds, the person earning doesn’t deserve it because why else would one person be a have and one person be a have not? And then there’s the St Pete catalyst to fuel this narrative that all these questions haven’t been asked and answered. Let’s just try it again, but here!

  3. Avatar

    A Moe

    April 1, 2023at2:31 pm

    What a waste of money. $75,000 down the drain for something that can’t take place for a couple of decades – hopefully never.

  4. Avatar

    Donna Kostreva

    March 30, 2023at7:58 pm

    Voting out everyone on Council except Mr. Montinari who seems the only clear thinker.

    I am tired of the blinded money loving land grabbers repeatedly attempting to acquire AW, a far more valuable city asset than anything they can dream up.

    Stop wasting taxpayer money on electric bikes that are environmentally unsound, bump outs that disrupt the flow of traffic making driving a nightmare, wasting free trips on the Sunrunner, which if only a dollar was charged you would have made $400k for the city coffers, spending $50k for abortion trips out of state, and consultant fees on AW!!

    Out with the lot of you! Worst city administration in 45 years!

  5. Avatar

    HAL FREEDMAN

    March 30, 2023at5:09 pm

    So far, the Mayor has wasted time and money on this project…as noted above, City taxpayers have picked up $360,000 that would have been covered by FAA grants awaiting distribution, if the Mayor hadn’t been concerned about extending the FAA commitment to 2042, instead of 2041. Does the Mayor think he will still be Mayor in 2041? City Council members…refuse to spend another $75,000 on an unnecessary study, plus what a referendum would cost to change the airport into something else.

  6. Avatar

    HAL FREEDMAN

    March 30, 2023at5:04 pm

    Why is the Mayor initiating a controversial, divisive issue unnecessarily? There are certainly more important issues to deal with. Several things stand in the way of changes to the airport: 1) FAA grant money was used in 2021…the airport must remain an airport until 2041; 2) The airport is City Charter protected, because of a referendum several years ago, which was over 70% in favor of keeping it an airport in perpetuity. A new referendum would be required to change that…at considerable cost; 3) I’m not convinced the Mayor has the Council votes to even do the study.

  7. Avatar

    Hugh Hazeltine

    March 29, 2023at11:44 pm

    I went to the last meeting and got a first hand account of this meeting. I admire the city employees who wade though this process of picking a firm to do this study. They know the study will cost more than $75,000 and therefore the expenditure must be approved by city council. It is fair to say that council will be wondering why they have to spend money for a “study” when our mayor has instructed city staff not to accept FAA airport improvement funds that have already been approved for Albert Whitted Airport. Those FAA airport improvement funds come from aviation Fuel taxes that have been collected and are ready for distribution.

  8. Avatar

    Mike

    March 29, 2023at9:28 pm

    You’ve never heard of meigs field?

  9. Avatar

    Mike

    March 29, 2023at8:46 pm

    @tim aren’t you paying attention?? The city will continue to do whatever it wants.

    Not one person thinks this city is moving in the right direction. The culture here has been annihilated. First avenue has been destroyed. Central avenue is a parking lot. Communist organizations hold city hall hostage.

    The city’s answer to that is doubling tripling and quadrupling down.

    The city’s vision is “the line going up”. We are going to pick up the bill. The catalyst is going to celebrate it.

  10. Avatar

    John Donovan

    March 29, 2023at6:45 pm

    Alternative uses for A W Airport? Where will all the miraculous climate change solving flying electric vehicles land and park? Tampa? That would be inconvenient and require more earth resources for further transit to St Petersburg. (You have to know how to talk to the woke folk. I’m available at $250/hour with a 2 hour minimum.)

  11. Avatar

    Bernie

    March 29, 2023at5:36 pm

    I wonder how many consultants St Pete has paid over the years to study the airport. Anyone keeping track?

  12. Avatar

    Tim

    March 29, 2023at3:35 pm

    Why are you doing a study on a piece of property you can’t touch until 2040 just wasting more money!!!!

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