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Exciting Changes Coming to SRQ Airport’s Plane-Spotting Paradise

| Suncoast Post Staff |

This story was compiled from various news sources.  Sarasota Bradenton International Airport is set to undergo a major transformation with the redevelopment of its popular plane-spotting area. Located off the west side of a big curve on 301 Boulevard East/15th Street East, across from Lindbergh Court, the unpaved patch is currently a hotspot for aviation enthusiasts. However, thanks to a joint effort by the Sarasota Manatee Airport Authority and Manatee County government, this area is about to be revamped into a state-of-the-art observation deck.

Designed by Sweet Sparkman Architecture & Interiors, the new observation area, known as “The Wing,” will feature an aluminum shade structure and an 825-square-foot deck. Visitors will be able to listen to air traffic communications through speakers installed in the deck, while displays and signage will offer insights into the airport’s history and operations. Seating will be provided for comfort, and an aviation-themed playground sponsored by Allegiant Air will cater to young enthusiasts.

The plans also include landscaping, lighting, and a paved parking area. “We would look out there and see all the people behind the fence watching the planes and wondered how we could enhance it and make it a nicer experience,” said Rick Piccolo, the airport’s President and CEO.

The new facility will offer 17 paved parking spots, with additional overflow parking available on a crushed shell area, accommodating approximately 25 vehicles in total. The estimated cost of this project is $2.2 million, with funding to be split between the Manatee County Government and the airport authority.

Manatee County commissioners are set to consider an amendment to the 2022 reimbursement agreement for the SRQ observation deck. The airport authority is requesting an increase in the maximum contribution for economic development activities from $350,000 to $1.1 million.

Elliott Falcione, Manatee County’s tourism director, highlighted the current viewing area’s popularity among residents and visitors for plane spotting. The planned enhancements are expected not only to elevate the plane-spotting experience but also to serve as a foundation for future amenities around the airport.

Photo from  Sweet Sparkman Architecture & Interiors

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