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Moffitt Cancer Center seeks to open outpatient clinic on Tampa airport property

TAMPA — Moffitt Cancer Center has worked out terms of a deal to operate an outpatient center on a corner of Tampa International Airport.

The center wants to lease the former Continental Airlines reservation center near Boy Scout Boulevard from the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority. Moffitt would spend up to $13 million to renovate the building for a treatment and imaging center.

Moffitt staff now does that work at Tampa General Hospital but is running out of space, said chief operating officer Jack Kolosky. The cancer center must move quickly to relocate to the airport site by mid 2011, when its lease at Tampa General expires.

Moffitt hopes to get a sense of whether the aviation authority board supports the project when the issue comes up at its monthly meeting Thursday morning. "We need to know if we're going to be at this location,'' Kolosky said.

The two-story building became a point of conflict in January between board members and Louis Miller, the agency's former executive director.

Miller was ready to demolish the $4 million structure. But most of the board was caught by surprise when the plan was reported by television and newspapers. Members supported the demolition in a 3-1 vote after Miller told them no one was interested.

Within days, a real estate broker representing Moffitt e-mailed board member Steven Burton to say that he had asked airport staff about the property months earlier. Miller put the demolition plans on hold and had staffers begin negotiations.

The deal they worked out would give the cancer center a 20-year lease, with rent starting at $371,000 annually. Any lease would need approval of the Federal Aviation Administration.

FAA policy currently limits non-aviation use of airport property to three to five years. Tampa International staff sent documentation to the FAA and will follow up "in the strongest possible manner'' supporting the proposed lease, reads an agenda item for Thursday's meeting.

Steve Huettel can be reached at huettel@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3384.

Moffitt Cancer Center seeks to open outpatient clinic on Tampa airport property 03/30/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 30, 2010 10:44pm]
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