July 2, 2008

Airport Hotel Project to Break Ground in Bradenton, Fla.

By Sara Kennedy, The Bradenton Herald, Fla.

Jul. 1--Ground-breaking may take place as soon as Thursday on the first phase of the $100 million SRQ Innovation Green LLC project at the airport, officials said.

The long-delayed mixed-use project calls for two hotels, 200,000 square feet of office and retail space and a 150-seat restaurant, said Eric Collin, executive vice president for Finergy Development Group, LLC, of Sarasota, the project developer.

The project is slated for 7.8 acres at University Parkway and Airport Circle, near the south entrance to Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport.

The first phase includes a $7.2 million Hampton Inn & Suites hotel, which is expected to take 10 to 12 months to complete, said Collin at a meeting of the Sarasota Manatee Airport Authority, which oversees the airport.

"We're anxious to get started, we can't wait," said Collin. The project has been delayed years by planning and permitting snags, changes in developers and federal requirements, since the airport is regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration.

The company was on the verge of completing arrangements for a "performance and payment bond," to ensure that the job is completed if for some reason the developer cannot finish. The authority board last month insisted on a performance bond after Finergy officials said they had not been able to secure one.

The project's general contractor is Firmo Construction, the construction arm of Finergy Group, its architect is Keith Bullock, of Spencer Maxwell Bullock Architects, P.A., of Pensacola, and the land planner is Allen Parsons, of WilsonMiller, Inc., of Sarasota, said Collin.

The 108-room hotel joins a pair of new hotels going up near the airport. Facing the Innovation Green site is a new Hyatt hotel already under construction, while a new Holiday Inn is under construction on the east edge of the airport, on the grounds of the Sarasota-Bradenton International Convention Center.

"We're very happy to see they've got everything ready," said Rick Piccolo, SRQ's president and chief executive officer. "As you look at what's going on you're reaching critical mass of all these hotels."

"More and more, it's a business component, It'll help in attracting more business," he said.

The authority board was scheduled to meet Monday, but three members were absent, so it lacked a quorum and could not take any official action. Absent were Leslie Wells, Kathy Baylis and Paul Sharff; attending were Jack Rynerson, Eric Robinson and John Redgrave.

The meeting was continued to 1 p.m., July 9.


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