Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pinellas examines Airco Golf Course's potential



It's years away, but Airco Golf Course could become a part of Pinellas history after nearly a half-century in existence.

On Tuesday, the County Commission agreed to explore closing the course and dividing its 129 acres up for aviation, office, industrial and hotel use.

The commission's decision was based on a consultant's feasibility study for the course, which is part of St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport and sits on Old Tampa Bay.

The study suggests limiting the intensity of the project to avoid additional levels of review by state regulators.

What's proposed would reserve 25 acres for aviation use and dedicate 78 acres for two hotels and a mix of office and industrial buildings that would help satisfy the county's long-range economic development needs. The remaining land is unsuitable for development.

The data used for the study were collected well before the current market collapse, and even the consultant suggested additional research. Plus, several hurdles must be met before final decisions are made and work on the site commences.

With so much uncertainty, County Commissioner Ronnie Duncan cautioned against alarming the public by prematurely suggesting that the consultant's plan is a blueprint for future development.

"We have some potential to do great things with this property," Duncan said. "We also have the potential to have a big train wreck at the end of the day."

The surrounding road network is not up to the task of handling development on the site. Commissioners agreed that key road projects, such as a connector between Bayside Bridge and 118th Avenue and a limited access highway linking U.S. 19 and Interstate 275 along 118th Avenue, need to be in place before the development is completed.

In a best-case scenario, the limited access highway would not be finished until 2012 or 2013. The state hasn't even set money aside for the Bayside Bridge connector.

Then there's the Federal Aviation Administration. Airport director Noah Lagos said he had met with FAA officials who are asking whether an environmental study of the site is warranted. Also, Lagos said the federal agency may not be satisfied with just 25 acres being reserved for aviation.

"That's going to be a future point of discussion," he said.

The county owns the airport, which in turn owns and operates the golf course, which was built in 1961.

Though they agreed to move forward with the concept of developing Airco, commissioners stressed the need to move deliberately and with a high degree of public participation.

That's what Michael Schlensker, a retiree who lives in nearby Feather Sound, expects.

Schlensker said the neighborhood has concerns about traffic, increased noise and maintaining a suitable buffer between any development and the community.

"We're participants in this and would like more participation," he said. "Feather Sound wants to be involved."

Will Van Sant can be reached at [email protected] or 445-4166.

By the numbers

129 acres make up the current Airco Golf Course.

25 acres would be set aside for aviation use under the proposed plan.

78 acres would be dedicated for two hotels and a mix of office and industrial buildings.

26 acres are unsuitable for development.

Pinellas examines Airco Golf Course's potential 10/28/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 30, 2008 2:51pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Sen. Nelson urges FEMA to examine high number of denied flood claims

    Banking

    Sen. Bill Nelson urged FEMA on Tuesday to ensure fairness, proper oversight and transparency in processing Hurricane Irma aid following a report by the Palm Beach Post that 90 percent of Irma claims under the National Flood Insurance Program had been denied.

    Sen. Bill Nelson is calling for FEMA to ensure the flood claims process post-Hurricane Irma is fair and ethical following reports that 90 percent of claims under the National Flood Insurance Program were denied. | [Times file photo]
  2. Pasco delays Irma food distribution after problems elsewhere

    Local Government

    DADE CITY — Pasco County has pulled the plug on a planned Food for Florida distribution at the Land O'Lakes Recreation Center that had been scheduled to open to the public on Sunday.

    Pasco County has postponed a planned Food for Florida distribution at the Land O' Lakes Recreation Center on Collier Parkway and is seeking an alternative site. Last week, commissioners said they feared a repeat of the long lines of traffic that appeared outside Plant City Stadium on Oct. 9. The nutrition program for people affected by Hurricane Irma had been scheduled to come to Land O' Lakes Oct. 18 to 27.  [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  3. Editorial: UF can set example for free speech

    Editorials

    White nationalist Richard Spencer is bringing his racist message Thursday to the University of Florida in a legitimate, if utterly repugnant, display of the First Amendment at work. As a public university, UF has little choice but to allow Spencer's speech to take place. Now the university and the broader community has …

    By responding with peaceful protests and refusing to be provoked into violence, UF and the Gainesville community can provide a powerful repudiation of Richard Spencer’s hateful message.
  4. Percussionist rocks out with a blazing triangle solo during Florida Orchestra performance

    Blogs

    Oh, the poor triangle. It's the orchestra equivalent of a rock band's tamborine, and such easy fodder for jokes.

    John Shaw performs a triangle solo.
  5. Amazon expands in Tampa with Pop-Up shop in International Plaza

    Retail

    TAMPA — A new retailer known largely for its online presence has popped up at International Plaza and Bay Street.

    Shoppers walk past the new Amazon kiosk Tuesday at the International Plaza in Tampa. The kiosk, which opened last month, offers shoppers an opportunity to touch and play with some of the products that Amazon offers.
[CHRIS URSO   |   Times]