Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners Approves 50-year ground lease with MarineMax, Inc. on St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport (PIE) Property

Dec 14, 2022

Move anticipated to spur economic development and create over 300 jobs

The Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) on Tuesday approved a 50-year ground lease agreement of 9.5 acres of St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport property to MarineMax, Inc., a move that is anticipated to  help create hundreds of new jobs, boost economic development and inject millions into the local economy as the site is developed.  

The county issued a  Request for Negotiations last year to identify economic development possibilities for the land. MarineMax Inc. provided the sole proposal. 

Headquartered in Clearwater, MarineMax is the world’s largest recreational boat and yacht retailer with over 125 locations worldwide.  MarineMax partnered with local companies Intrepid Powerboats and Wannemacher Jensen Architects for this project. MarineMax’s conceptual plan for the site includes a 132,000 SF state-of-the-art manufacturing building, a parking garage for approximately 400 vehicles, a travel lift well for hauling and launching yachts, and a waterside docking facility for their mooring yachts. Phase One of the improvements is expected to be completed by year three of occupancy. Targeted jobs are estimated at 280 trades workers, 20 administrative support staff, and 315 temporary construction-related jobs.  The new manufacturing jobs are consistent with Pinellas County Economic Development’s strategy of expanding and recruiting companies for Pinellas’ advanced manufacturing industry sector. 

The new agreement establishes a rate of $.60 per square foot and allows for payment in monthly installments on a scaled approach for the first thirty-six months based on an annual revenue amount of $248,987.40.  The scaled payment schedule is based on the time it will take the vendor to develop the property. After the five-year initial rate, the annual rent will be increased based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI).  Months 0-12 are $0 annual rent, months 13-24 are 25% of annual payment ($62,246.85), months 24-36 are 75% of the annual payment ($186,740.55) and months 37 and beyond are 100% of the annual payment ($248,987.40). 

St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport is an Enterprise Department of Pinellas County operating as a self-supporting funded department.  Airport Director Tom Jewsbury stated “We are very pleased to bring this economic development opportunity forward with one of the few undeveloped parcels of waterfront land in Pinellas County.  The MarineMax project is a job creator for both construction and manufacturing and the 50-year lease provides a new significant source of revenue for the airport.  We look forward to the development of this property and the economic returns it brings to Pinellas County.”

The property, located 900 front east of Bayside Bridge, north of Roosevelt Boulevard and west of PIE’s airfield, was originally developed in the mid 1970’s as a restaurant and banquet facility by Specialty Restaurants. Over time the business closed and was subleased to another establishment, The Turtle Club. The Turtle Club eventually closed, and the County terminated the lease and demolished the remaining structure.

Airport Media Contact:  Michele Routh, Public Relations Director