A development company has agreed to donate 4,000 acres of land to create a large, international airport in the Florida Panhandle, a controversial move they hope will bring enough people and economic activity to support the houses they plan to build.
"A supersized $330 million airport is planned for the piney wilderness about 20 miles from downtown Panama City, big enough to handle international flights, Air Force One and even the giant Airbus A380. It will have more acreage than La Guardia in New York and Newark Liberty International combined."
"But the airport has a supporter that carries extraordinary weight in the region, the St. Joe Company, the largest private landowner in Florida. The company, a onetime paper producer that has switched to developing resort communities, wants to donate 4,000 of its 774,000 mostly rural acres for the project. In return, St. Joe hopes the airport will help lure wealthy homebuyers to the Panhandle, which it is marketing as 'Florida's Great Northwest.'"
"The airport is at the center of a growing debate over whether to keep the Panhandle relatively quiet or to seek the kind of development that has made other parts of Florida vibrant, if teeming, hubs of sprawl. Opponents of the airport plan call it corporate welfare, with taxpayers getting the bill for a project that would mostly help a single developer."