The St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport is teeing up a 130-acre site for mixed-use development.
The 130-acre property that was a former golf course is the largest piece of undeveloped land in Pinellas County and has been perceived as the largest economic opportunity in the county.
The airport has wrapped up an environmental assessment on the site – referred to as the Airco s- ite that is on the southeast of the airport’s property. The study is a critical step needed to pursue development on the property.
“We can have any aeronomical uses, but we have to construct a taxiway system on the property for that use,” St. Pete-Clearwater Airport Director Tom Jewsbury said.
The property, which the county controls, is zoned for office and industrial use.
The next step is to complete the infrastructure site study on how the land could be developed, which should be completed by the summer, and then proceed to issue a request for proposals.
Completing these studies is essential in attracting larger users for example, the Lakeland Linder International Airport undertook studies including environmental assessments before securing e-commerce giant Amazon.
Amazon’s air cargo facility new location represents Amazon Air’s largest facility in the Southeast, and has hired hundreds of employees. It expands its operations by more than 60 acres.
When the study is complete at the St. Pete-Clearwater airport, a request for proposals will be advertised through Pinellas County.
Other projects down the runway
Last year, the airport finished a $22 million runway pavement rehab, refurbished the U.S. Customs facility and created an in-line baggage system. This year, it also has a hefty to-do list.
“We have an airfield vault that we will be relocating it because it is at the south end and could have a negative impact on a future terminal expansion,” Jewsbury said.
In Fiscal Year 2024, the airport will start the design process on a $65 million terminal expansion.
Jewsbury said the airport plans to seek financial grants for the expansion, which is in the preliminary stages.
The airport is also going to undergo a $10 million new taxiway and ramp rehab project.
In addition to the infrastructure developments, the airport’s tenants are resuming construction.
St. Pete-based 3 Daughters Brewing was to open a brewery inside the airport, but had to temporarily halt the construction due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The construction is now resuming and is expected to be completed before Thanksgiving, Jewsbury said.
Meanwhile, Mazzaro’s Italian Market was able to open in the airport last year.
Jewsbury said he did give tenants an option to defer rent payments for two months during the pandemic, to help them navigate the financial uncertainties.
New flights to launch
The Canadian airline Swoop will start service this fall with St. Pete-Clearwater.
Nonstop flights from Swoop will begin Nov. 5 from Toronto Pearson International Airport and on Nov. 9 from John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport.
Swoop joins Sunwing, another Canadian low-cost airline, as the second international airline servicing PIE.
“International travel is coming back and we are starting to see Canadian borders loosen up restrictions, but there are still restrictions Europe, Latin America,” Jewsbury said.
“Business travel is very slow to return; however, our travelers are 95% leisure travelers,” he said about how the airport’s foot traffic is ramping up.
Sun Country Airlines will launch a new route from St. Pete-Clearwater to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport Nov. 25.
Allegiant Air recently announced more nonstop connections through the airport, including a connection to Wichita, Kansas.
The airport now has 65 nonstop flights. Pre-pandemic, it had roughly 55 nonstop flights.