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Brand-new Breeze Airways to begin offering nonstop flights from Tampa International Airport

Breeze Airways, a brand-new airline created by JetBlue founder David Neeleman, has chosen Tampa International Airport as its inaugural market. The carrier's first flight is to Charleston, S.C. and will depart May 27. Headquartered in Salt Lake City, Breeze Airways' debut network will be comprised of 39 nonstop routes between 16 cities in the Southwest, Midwest, Southeast and Eastern U.S. with Tampa, Charleston, New Orleans and Norfolk, Va. serving as its main hubs. Breeze will fly nonstop to 10 destinations, most of which are currently not served at TIA. These destinations include Charleston, Louisville, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Norfolk, Bentonville/Fayetteville, Ark., Akron/Canton, Ohio, Richmond, Va., Columbus, Ohio and Huntsville, Ala.  

Developer will buy Tyrone property slated for sports complex, reassess potential use

St. Pete's LLC has formally withdrawn plans to build a sports complex and apartments at 1501 72nd St. N. The company is considering other options that would be allowed under existing zoning and future land use map categories, according to a May 19 update on the city of St. Petersburg's website. Les Porter, president of Porter Development, which wanted to develop the project, told the St. Pete Catalyst Friday morning that he plans to buy the property and then reassess development options. "After spending two years of due diligence on this property, we are confident in the quality of the real estate we are purchasing," Porter said. The site formerly was occupied by Raytheon, an aerospace and defense firm that has been cleaning up groundwater contamination on site. The St. Petersburg City Council voted in February to back the project, despite fierce opposition from some neighbors. Forward Pinellas, a countywide land use and transportation planning agency, voted in March against recommending approval of the plan to the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners. 

Imagine Clearwater groundbreaking postponed

Groundbreaking ceremonies for the $64 million Imagine Clearwater public park, schedule for May 24, have been postponed. Mayor Frank Hibbard told Clearwater City Council that the delay was temporary, until commodities prices on lumber, steel and other construction materials decreased. 

Bayfront, Johns Hopkins All Children’s get Pier naming rights

Two St. Petersburg hospitals will put their names on St. Pete Pier attractions under an ordinance approved Thursday by the St. Petersburg City Council. Bayfront Health St. Petersburg will pay $750,000 over five years for naming rights to the Tilted Lawn, while Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital will pay $250,000 over five years to put its name on the tram that travels the length of the Pier. Bayfront, acquired last year by Orlando Health, wants to demonstrate continuing support of and commitment to the city, while Johns Hopkins All Children's views the Pier as a healthy destination for youth, the St. Pete Catalyst previously reported. The city has been marketing naming rights opportunities for selected areas of the St. Pete Pier District to help offset future operating costs. In October, the City Council approved a 30-year agreement with the Glazer Vision Foundation, which made a $1.5 million donation to the city in return for naming rights for what is now the Glazer Family Pier playground.

Kriseman weighs congressional race

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman spoke out Thursday on speculation that he will run for the 13th District Congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Charlie Crist. Kriseman, who is term limited and will leave the mayor's office in early 2022 after eight years in office, said he's been involved in public service for 21 years. "I want it to be meaningful, where I feel I can make a real difference," he said during an impromptu media gathering. "If I feel ultimately in consultation with my family that we think that I can make a difference and change lives in a positive way, then that may be what's right for me ... If I get in, I get in to win." Kriseman said he knows both of the Democratic candidates who already have jumped into the congressional race, Rep. Ben Diamond and Eric Lynn, a former national security advisor to President Barack Obama. Crist announced he would run for governor earlier this month.

Patrick Brett Foundation to donate $100,000 to Fresh Start Scholarship at SPC

The Patrick Brett Foundation will donate $100,000 to St. Petersburg College to provide students the opportunity for a second chance through the Fresh Start Scholarship. This donation matches a similar $100,000 donation given to SPC in 2020. Terry and Kim Brett created the foundation in 2016 in memory of their son, Patrick, who passed away in a car accident in 2005. Its mission is to offer guidance, nurture ambition, promote leadership and encourage positive change in the community. Over the years, the foundation has donated more than $375,000 to SPC in support of scholarships for individuals seeking to improve their lives through education. Scholarship applicants can contact Caity Carter, SPC Scholarship Manager, at Carter.Caity@spcollege.edu or (727) 614-7220.

Albert Whitted Airport gets federal grant

Albert Whitted Airport is receiving a $3.5 million grant for airport repairs and renovations. The grant, provided through the U.S. Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration, will specifically fund the installation of a runway vertical guidance system and runway rehabilitation, Rep. Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg) said in a news release. The airport is owned and operated by the city of St. Petersburg and employs about 665 people while providing a total economic impact of $79 million, Crist said. Crist is a member of the House Appropriations Committee and helped secure $18.1 billion this fiscal year for the FAA.

Tampa REIT makes $1.3 billion deal

Sila Realty Trust, a real estate investment trust headquartered in Tampa, has agreed to sell up to 29 of its data centers for about $1.32 billion, subject to potential adjustments. The buyer is Mapletree Industrial Trust, a real estate investment trust listed on the Singapore Exchange. The deal is expected to be completed in one or more closings during the third quarter of 2021, a news release said. The sale will help Sila Realty Trust transition to a pure-play healthcare REIT, said Michael Seton, president and CEO. As of March 31, Sila owned 153 real estate properties, made up of 29 data centers and 124 healthcare properties located in 70 markets across the United States.

Former USF leader named to SWFWMD board

Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed William Hogarth to the Southwest Florida Water Management District Governing Board. Hogarth, who lives in Treasure Island, is the former director of the Florida Institute of Oceanography at the University of South Florida. Previously, he served as dean of the University of South Florida’s College of Marine Science and as the assistant administrator for the National Marine Fisheries Services at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. His appointment is subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate. The Southwest Florida Water Management District, or SWFWMD, manages the water and related resources of west central Florida.

Pinellas Community Foundation catalyzes Emergency Broadband Benefit initiative with $10,000

Digital Inclusion St. Pete is spearheading a program that will provide qualifying households up to $50/month for internet service as well as a $100 discount on a computer or tablet.  Local internet providers Charter, Frontier and WOW! are participating. The Digital Inclusion group is seeking $25,000 to hire a coordinator to help achieve maximum value from the program through marketing, information sessions, volunteer recruitment/training and partnering with local tech organizations. Pinellas Community Foundation has kicked the raise off with a $10,000 grant.  Click here to apply for the program

Tech entrepreneur could join USF St. Pete campus advisory board

University of South Florida President Steve Currall will ask the USF board of trustees to appoint Reuben Pressman, founder and CEO of Presence, to the USF St. Petersburg campus advisory board. Presence, based in St. Petersburg, has a software platform that helps higher educational institutions collect and understand data and take action to increase co-curricular student engagement, success and workforce readiness. Presence serves 250 universities with over 1.5 million students. Pressman also is Entrepreneur-In-Residence for the city of St. Petersburg, a position in which he advocates for entrepreneurs, promotes the city around the U.S. for company, workforce and investor recruitment, and helps to improve government efficiencies. He graduated from USF St. Petersburg in 2011 with a B.S. in Entrepreneurship and is eligible for a four-year term on the campus advisory board. The USF Board of Trustees Governance Committee will vote on his appointment on May 25.

Black Knight acquires Tampa’s eMBS Inc.

Real estate data provider Black Knight has acquired Tampa-based eMBS Inc., which tracks nearly $7.5 trillion in mortgage-backed securities. Black Knight believes that adding eMBS Inc's data gives the company the "the most comprehensive view of U.S. residential mortgage whole loan and security performance in existence." Financial details of the deal were not disclosed. 

The St. Pete Catalyst

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