WINTER HAVEN - Five million dollars has been set aside for a new airport terminal.
Now all the city needs is a builder.
Bids for construction went out earlier this month, and the city should know who the contractor will be by Feb. 14.
So far, about eight contractors each paid the city $500 for construction plans so that they can prepare bids. That doesn't mean all of them will submit bids.
By April 2008, the 75-year-old leaky brick terminal should be a thing of the past. In its place will be a shiny new building with a pilots lounge, new offices, two conference rooms and a restaurant.
"We've been working on getting this for five years," said Cheryl Connor, the airport manager. "It's going to be pretty impressive."
The old building, built in the early 1940s, will likely be leased to a business.
Entrance to the 13,000-square-foot terminal will be from U.S. 92, about a 1/4 mile from the current 4,500-square-foot terminal faces 21st Street Northwest.
In addition to the restaurant, Connor said, there is room for at least four businesses.
The primary use for the airport is the Winter Haven Flight Academy, which will likely move its headquarters to the new terminal. Some of the airport's business comes from corporate jets, such as Liberty Mutual Insurance, Wal-Mart, State Farm and Bowen Homes. Auburndale native and NBA basketball star Tracy McGrady owns a jet, which lands at the airport when he returns home. Corporate jets and the flight school make up most of the 80,000 landings the airport has each year.
The architect of the Florida-Cracker designed terminal, complete with tin roof and wood siding, was PBS&J, of Orlando.
The city is footing about 20 percent of the bill, or about $1,000,000. The Florida Department of Transportation is paying the rest.
Connor isn't the only one getting new digs.
Airplanes will have new parking, and longtime airport operator Richard Parish will be in a new office for the first time in 18 years.
Parish has mixed feelings about the move.
"You just get attached to an old building," Parish said. "I don't know how I'm going to act in the new place."
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