About the Relocated Panama City – Bay County International Airport
New website for the airport:
The Panama City – Bay County International Airport and Industrial District (Airport Authority) is nearing completion of a ten-year process to relocate the Panama City – Bay County airport. The relocated airport is expected to be the first new airport built since September 11, 2001.
In late 1980s the Airport Authority began an effort to address significant deficiencies at the existing airport, including non-standard runway safety areas. When local environmentalists and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection objected to extending the existing runway system into Goose Bayou, a particularly environmentally sensitive part of St. Andrews Bay, the Airport Authority began considering relocating the airport.
After working with the FAA to complete a feasibility study in 2000 and a site selection study in 2001, the Airport Authority identified a new site for the airport in northwestern Bay County (West Bay) on land owned by The St. Joe Company (NYSE:JOE).
Following the FAA's selection of the site, the Airport Authority partnered with the State of Florida, Bay County and The St. Joe Company in an innovative planning process authorized by Florida law known as "optional sector permitting and planning." The process included dozens of public meetings, data gathering, analysis and visioning for the future. The plan was approved by Bay County and the State of Florida in 2002 and detailed specific area plans were also approved in 2003. Its policies will guide future development and conservation of the West Bay area.
One of the most innovative elements of the plan, in addition to the airport and economic development provisions, is the proposed West Bay Preservation Area. The West Bay Preservation was designed by local and state environmental leaders to preserve the health and habitat of West Bay forever. This watershed scale plan will preserve approximately 40,000 acres and, when fully implemented, include the provision of habitat corridors, open space and stream protection.
Simplified, the objective of the West Bay Preservation Area is to maintain West Bay in its present, pristine state forever. Its vision, especially when compared to the development that has occurred on Florida 's other bay front lands, holds the potential to be one of the most significant conservation measures in Florida history. The plan has won statewide praise including the "2007 Promising Practices Award " from the Council for Sustainable Florida this month.
In 2004 the FAA began preparing a Draft Environmental Impact Statement considering two-dozen alternatives for addressing the deficiencies at the existing airport. In May 2006, the FAA issued its Final Environmental Impact Statement, identifying relocation to the West Bay Site as its Preferred Alternative. In September 2006, the FAA issued its Record of Decision recommending and approving relocation of the Panama City airport to the proposed site in West Bay.
In August 2007, after extensive review, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a Section 404 permit, the final permit necessary to begin construction of the airport.
In September 2007, the Airport Authority approved a contract to sell the current airport site to a subsidiary of Leucadia National Corporation of New York (NYSE:LUK) for $56.5 million in cash and an estimated $38 million in transfer fees from the sale of future properties developed on site. The current airport site is approximately 700 acres adjacent to North Bay in Panama City.
Under the Airport Authority's current schedule, the new airport is expected to open in the first quarter of 2010.
View Official Panama City - Bay County International Airport Website
These West Bay area developers and community leaders work hard to strike a balance between economic growth and responsible development.
Randy Curtis is executive director of the Panama City - Bay County International Airport, which is owned and operated by the Panama City-Bay County Airport and Industrial District (the Airport Authority). The Airport Authority is governed by a board that is composed of five members. The Panama City Commission appoints two, the Bay County Commission appoints two, and the four sitting board members elect the fifth.
Peter S. Rummell became chairman and chief executive officer of The St. Joe Co.'s vast land holdings in 1997 and shifted its emphasis from paper products to real-estate development. Rummell began his real-estate career in 1971 with the Sea Pines Company, developers of Hilton Head Island, S.C., and Amelia Island, Fla. In 1985, he became president of the Disney Development Company and was responsible for the Walt Disney Company's non-theme-park land.
Ted Clem is executive director of the Bay County Economic Development Alliance, a public-private partnership whose stated purpose is to establish Bay County as a globally competitive environment to conduct business, encourage economic growth that enhances the area's standard of living and quality of life, and facilitate the creation of an environment that encourages the expansion of existing business and the location of new business.
Ed Wright is chairman of Partners in Progress, a community-based organization founded in late 2003 with the mission to promote the relocation of the Panama City-Bay County International Airport. Wright retired last year from Florida State University in Panama City, where he had served as president.
Dan Pennington is a community planner with 1000 Friends of Florida, an organization established in the 1980s to serve as a watchdog to track the implementation of growth-management laws. As growth management and enviromental programs of the state have evolved, 1000 Friends continues to monitor implementation of laws on a statewide level.