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ETA set for new terminal at Albert Whitted Airport

Officials look to open the two-story structure asearly as next month once negotiations are resolved with the key tenant.

By CRISTINA SILVA, Times Staff Writer
Published October 14, 2007


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ST. PETERSBURG- The recently constructed terminal at Albert Whitted Municipal Airport could be open as early as next month, city officials said.

The terminal, designed to attract new business to the airport, long considered an elite playground funded by taxpayers, will eventually feature a car rental company, a restaurant, and aircraft vendors.

City officials have been negotiating the terms of the lease since May with vendor Bay Air Flying Service, a company that already leases space at the airport and is slated to enter into a five-year agreement with the city that would allow it to manage the first floor of the two-floor terminal.

"We just have been back and forth on a number of items," said Richard Lesniak, airport manager. "We hope to have the final lease before the City Council for approval on Oct. 18."

Once the lease is approved, Bay Air can begin managing the facility at anytime, Lesniak said.

The terminal has been vacant since construction ended in August.

Longtime airport supporters said they are thrilled the city is finally on the cusp of resolving the lease. After six months of negotiations, many feared the terminal would never open.

"It's bureaucratic slowness," said Jack Tunstill, chairman of the Albert Whitted Advisory Committee, and a flight instructor at the airport.

"You've got a facility sitting here that is not generating revenue, and we keep telling everyone that the airport ought to generate revenue and not be a burden on the city of St. Petersburg."

Regardless whether the negotiations are finalized or not, city officials said the terminal will be open to the public during the annual St. Petersburg AirFest, Oct. 19-21 at the airport.

Cristina Silva can be reached at 727 893-8846 or csilva@sptimes.com.

[Last modified October 13, 2007, 22:06:34]


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