Cost Estimate of New Panhandle Airport Jumps to $275 Million

The cost estimate of a proposed new airport in the Florida Panhandle increased again. The total price tag is now $275 million.

The Panama City-Bay County Airport Authority is considering a plan to relocate the airport to a 4,000 acre site near West Bay that would be donated by Florida's largest private land owner.

The St. Joe Company plans to develop property surrounding the proposed facility. Bay County voters opposed the relocation last year, but planning continued with construction envisioned to begin late this year or in 2006.

The authority has never taken a formal vote on relocation, but Chairman Jimmy Patronis, Jr. has agreed to put it on the panel's agenda next month.

It would be partly paid for by selling the present 713-acre airport valued at about $55 million to developers. State and federal funds would be sought for the remaining costs.