Albert Whitted Airport 20-year plan includes expansion, longer runway

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Upgrades and a possible expansion could be coming to Albert Whitted Airport in St. Petersburg.

For the first time, we are getting a glimpse at the airport’s new 20-year master plan.

The airport has been in operation for nearly 100 years, making it a historical part of downtown St. Pete. The city hopes upgrades and an expansion could increase overall growth in the area.

 “We’ve been able to maintain a good sense of compatibility with the downtown, despite the fact that we are an operating airport and so, maintaining that compatibility with whatever we do in the future is very important,” explained Albert Whitted Airport Manager Richard Lesniak.

Wednesday, airport officials held an open house to show the community what the 20-year master plan could mean for residents and travelers.

“This is really information gathering, but I think what residents who live along the cost are going to want to know is what this means in terms of potential over flights and noise,” said resident Bill Dahl.

One of the topics up for discussion was extending the runway, which officials say would allow for longer take-offs. That means planes would be able to carry fuel and passengers at their full capacity.

Also under consideration is moving the runway, which would allow development in the runway protection zone (RPZ). Right now, the RPZ is mainly occupied by USF’s St. Petersburg campus.

“Because we’re moving the landing threshold further to the east, it’s going to put the landing approach of airplanes higher up to the properties to the west so potentially that gives them more vertical room so they may be able to add additional floors,” Lesniak explained.

Airport officials hope to reach new heights by giving everyone a say. So far, no final decisions have been made. Airport officials plan to host another open house within the next eight months.