December 15, 2006
Airport Development Process Becomes Clearer.
by Ed Martin
City Manager, Marty Black, has received seven letters expressing interest in development on airport property. These letters are being reviewed by a committee of council member John Moore, city attorney Robert Anderson, Black and airport manager, Fred Watts.
There is a special meeting of the Airport Advisory Board scheduled for December 20th. In discussions with involved persons I found that the AAB did not know what to expect at that meeting, other than the general topic of “standards” and similar guidelines.
In a message to Moore and Black I asked whether the AAB would be dealing with proposals affecting airport operations, e.g., new facilities for aviation-related purposes, or with commercial development. I also asked whether the city proposed to develop a plan for the overall development which would lead to a Request for Proposals for the commercial development.
Black replied, “The AAB meeting for the 20th will not include any review or presentation on any development proposals. No developer or interested party has submitted any of the materials that staff have, (sic), requested for review prior to formulating a staff recommendation for city council and the AAB.” He did not elaborate on the other issues raised or whether the AAB would have been asked to develop some kinds of standards for the commercial development had the submissions been more complete.
John Moore presented an “historical” view of the airport process going back to the Kimberly-Horn planning proposal about four years ago. The K-H project still is being used as a guide. A proposal by Steve Harner had asked to lease several sites on the airport for various commercial purposes. Moore led council to suggesting that an RFP process would be a better approach.
Unfortunately, that RFP was not carefully enough drawn by city officials and it led to proposals with some interesting characteristics, but each involved housing, which the developers felt was necessary to make the projects economically viable. Housing on the airport was never feasible according to the Federal Aviation Administration when it was finally asked, so the efforts of city and developers went for nil.
Black is scheduled to be in Orlando, December 15, asking FAA officials for guidance on what kinds of development they might prefer at the airport.
Moore shared several of his views as one member of the committee and council. He feels commercial development on the east side of the airport, at the proposed entrance from Business 41 and along the eastern edge of the property as well as along Airport Road, would be good for the city. That could include a hotel which would be large enough to offer meeting room facilities as well as encourage tourism.
He does not see an RFP in the process at present, but recognizes that approving projects as they come in could block future, more desirable projects from developers who were unaware of airport development wishes. That subject will probably get further consideration from city officials.
Moore made clear that he does not favor commercial development on or near the Gulf side of the airport. He considers the area one of “the last pristine” beach fronts and would vigorously oppose development that would intrude on the area near city and county beaches. He noted he was not referring to the proposed “active” features at Tramonto Park that council recently approved.
I think the identification by the city of its list of preferred usages, (guided by FAA if they offer suggestions), and a widespread advertisement of the opportunities, would be desirable. Even if the city decided not to offer a formal Request For Proposals, an announcement in aviation-related and commercial development publications of the airport property’s availability for development proposals would reduce the possibility of premature decisions based on too few proposals.
Ed Martin can be contacted at Ed@insideveniceflorida.com
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