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Simulation center planned for Sanford Airport to train Allegiant Air staff

Simulation center planned for Sanford Airport to train Allegiant Air staff
An Allegiant Air passenger jet on a taxiway prepares to depart from Orlando Sanford International Airport in this February 2016 photo. (Red Huber / Orlando Sentinel)

A simulation center is being planned alongside the main entrance to Orlando Sanford International Airport to train pilots and flight attendants who would work for Allegiant Air, the airport's largest carrier.

A site plan is currently under review by Sanford planning staff for a 29,250-square-foot simulation center, which would be situated on 6.5 acres of a 55-acre property that's owned by the airport's management company, Airports Worldwide. The property lies on Marquette Avenue, on the northwest corner of the intersection with Red Cleveland Boulevard.

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That square footage reflects Phase 1 for the development, with potential buildout to 58,500 square feet and 11.525 acres. Sanford planners should return their comments on the plan to the applicant today, and an Environmental Resource Permit application is currently pending review with the St. Johns River Water Management District.

Depending on how quickly the airline responds to planning staff comments and the ERP application earns approval, ground could break on the project before end of June, according to Sanford planning staff. Spolski Construction Inc. filed the application with SJRWMD.

An Allegiant spokeswoman declined to comment on the proposed simulation center, saying it was too early for the company to discuss the plans.

The management company would hold a long-term land lease agreement with Allegiant, Airports Worldwide president Larry Gouldthrope told GrowthSpotter.

The rest of the property that Airports Worldwide owns, while currently undeveloped, is being considered for uses that would complement the airport, with the first on-site hotel an option, Gouldthrope said.

Gouldthrope called the simulation center a "terrific fit" for the airport's surrounding property. A good deal of the land surrounding Orlando Sanford International is owned by the airport, but there are areas that remain under private ownership and are increasingly being developed.

Sanford and Las Vegas are Allegiant's top two hub airports, with the latter serving as company headquarters.

Diane Crews, CEO of Orlando Sanford International, told GrowthSpotter in November the airport was actively working to lease about seven tracts of land on its south and east sides for commercial use, roughly 10 to 15 acres each.

She envisions hotels, restaurants and other ancillary uses to complement the $27 million, 15-field tournament sports complex recently built just east of the airport on East Lake Mary Boulevard.

Crews did not respond to requests for comment on Wednesday about the proposed simulation center for Allegiant.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at bmoser@growthspotter.com, (407) 420-5685 or @bobmoser333. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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