Panama City-Bay County Airport will be the first greenfield facility of the 21st century.
Panama City Bay County Airport
Panama City-Bay County Airport will be the first greenfield facility of the 21st century.

Construction is under way at the nation’s first brand-new greenfield airport in the 21st century, with planners doing their best to anticipate the security, technology and environmental needs to come. The new Panama City-Bay County Airport, scheduled for completion in 2010, presents “somewhat of a guessing game,” says John Zebroski, airport project manager.

The $330-million airport is the centerpiece of the West Bay Sector Plan, an ambitious 74,000-acre long-term development for the Gulf Coast. Initial steps in the land-use plan include building 4.4 million sq ft of industrial, commercial and retail space. Another component is establishing a 37,000-acre conservation area, including nearly the entire shoreline of West Bay. Jackson ville-based St. Joe Co. offered the acreage to airport officials several years ago during their search for a new site. The offer was approved in 2005.

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  • “We had to strike a delicate balance between functionality and flexibility and in designing a facility that fits into its environment,” says Darin Larson, aviation program manager for PBS&J, Tampa, the design manager of the project. The 112,000-sq-ft main terminal includes ticketing areas that “will be easily converted into retail or concessions space in the future.”

    Adjacent to the typical airport spaces are another 18,000 sq ft set aside for the Transportation Security Administration. “We’ve worked with TSA and the Navy to utilize the airport as a test bed for new security systems,” notes Randy Curtis, airport executive director. “We took that aspect into consideration in design to make it a ‘plug-and-play’ terminal.”

    The terminal will be LEED-certified Silver, and stormwater retention ponds—or rather, non-retention ponds—will percolate the water back into the groundwater within 48 hours to discourage congregating birds.

    Design of the new terminal is nearly completed. Curtis hopes to select a prequalified construction team in August.