Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Amid growth, SRQ showcases redevelopment plans

A need for parking has slightly changed plans at Sarasota Bradenton International Airport, but commercial growth remains a priority.

  • By
  • | 2:00 p.m. November 10, 2021
Rick Piccolo, president and CEO of Sarasota Bradenton International Airport, said commercial growth will allow the airport to provide shops and restaurants that complement air travel. File photo
Rick Piccolo, president and CEO of Sarasota Bradenton International Airport, said commercial growth will allow the airport to provide shops and restaurants that complement air travel. File photo
  • Sarasota
  • News
  • Share

Sarasota Bradenton International Airport leaders have a vision for commercial development on airport-owned land along University Parkway, but a surge in air traffic may complicate that goal for the near future.

On Monday, representatives for the Sarasota Manatee Airport Authority held a community workshop through the city to outline a series of development applications the group has filed. Through the applications, the airport seeks to rescind the development order currently governing 100 acres of the property, replace it with a new one and obtain a series of land-use approvals to facilitate new commercial and parking facilities.

Monday’s workshop was the second time the airport has discussed its plans for redevelopment in a public forum. In July, airport officials met with the city’s Development Review Committee to discuss plans that were largely focused on commercial construction and a new centralized rental car facility for the airport.

Since that initial meeting with city staff, an increase in passengers at SRQ has forced airport officials to reconsider the timing and the scope of their commercial development plans. Attorney Dan Bailey, who is representing the airport, said the level of activity has increased significantly after the lowest points of the pandemic, which has created new facility-related challenges.

“Now, we have more traffic than we can keep up with,” Bailey said.

Bailey said the airport originally intended to develop the entirety of its frontage along University Parkway as commercial, creating a new source of revenue for an organization with no taxing authority. But more recently, in response to rising passenger volumes, the airport has designated two areas to be turned into surface parking lots — for the short-term, at least.

North of University Parkway and east of Old Bradenton Road, the airport intends to establish a remote parking lot with 450 spaces. At 1150 Rental Car Road, the airport plans to build a cell phone parking lot.

“Our long-term plan would be commercial for most of those parcels, but short-term, we’re first and foremost an airport, so we need to meet passenger needs,” Bailey said.

Beyond the expanded parking capacity, however, the airport remains focused on commercial growth. The applications filed with the city include a request to rezone 24.5 acres along University Parkway as “SRQ Gateway Centre.” The complex is slated to include 21,000 square feet of restaurant space, 20,000 square feet of offices, a 6,000 square-foot gas station and convenience store, a 5,000 square-foot retail store and a 130-room hotel.

To make room for the commercial development, the airport intends to eliminate existing rental car space along University and centralize those operations in a single facility at 1151 Rental Car Road.

Airport President and CEO Rick Piccolo was not available for comment. In a previous interview with the Sarasota Observer, Piccolo said the commercial growth was designed to better serve passengers flying through Sarasota, calling a restaurant and convenience store complementary uses to the airport facility. If the city approves the proposals, airport officials said they would take a flexible approach to the eventual commercial buildout of the affected land.

“We can move at a fast pace or a slow pace depending on what demand is out there,” Piccolo said.


Latest News