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- by New College News

SARASOTA, Fla. — New College of Florida and the Sarasota Manatee Airport Authority (SMAA)  on behalf of the Sarasota Bradenton International Airport (SRQ) have reached an agreement on initial terms of purchase and sale of 30.94 acres previously leased by the College. The New College Board of Trustees voted for initial approval of the agreement to purchase the property for $11.5 million at Monday’s meeting. If the deal is approved by the Sarasota Manatee Airport Authority (SMAA) and the Federal Aviation Administration, and funding is appropriated by the Florida Legislature, the Board of Trustees will vote on a final purchase and sale agreement in 2024.

“Securing New College’s future by resolving the leases and acquiring this land has been a top priority since I arrived in February,” said New College President Richard Corcoran. “SRQ is a great neighbor, and the deal we’ve set in motion will benefit both organizations, which in turn elevates our entire region.”

“President Corcoran’s eagerness to engage in good-faith negotiations to end the uncertainty caused by these lease agreements was essential to getting the framework of this deal in place,” said Rick Piccolo, President and C.E.O. of the SMAA. “This deal supports the immediate and long term needs of SRQ and provides future stability for New College, one of our community’s most special assets.”

SMAA is the current landlord and New College is the current tenant pursuant to a collection of leases and assignments originally entered into on October 2 1957 and June 23, 1966. The leases would run until 2056 without a deal for early termination. After welcoming in a record enrollment class in Fall 2023, the College is establishing a new master plan that includes reimagining what roles the East Campus will fulfill in the future. Purchasing the land clears one hurdle needed to initiate strategic redevelopment initiatives.

SRQ is undergoing a $200 million expansion that includes the construction of a new five-gate terminal. The project is slated to conclude in December 2024 and drastically expand the capacity of one of America’s fastest growing airports. The airport has more than tripled its number of annual passengers since 2018 and could host as many as seven million per year in less than a decade.

A parcel of land on the north side of General Dougher Place that was leased by New College will revert back to SMAA when the lease is terminated, contributing to the airport’s capacity for continued growth.

New College will continue refining its proposed master plan with a public hearing on Monday, January 22, 5:30 –7:00 p.m.