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New College approves land deal with Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport

A student makes her way past the sign at New College of Florida, Jan. 20, 2023, in Sarasota, Fla. Attorneys for New College of Florida, the traditionally progressive public liberal arts college which was taken over by allies of Gov. Ron DeSantis as part of his “war on woke,” last week threatened to sue a group of former faculty members and students. It's because they have formed an alternative online institute named “Alt New College” after departing the school following the takeover.
Chris O'Meara
The deal comes as New College embarks on plans to develop its East Campus.

A collection of leases and assignments were originally entered into agreement on Oct. 2, 1957, and June 23, 1966. The leases would run until 2056 without a deal for early termination.

New College of Florida and the Sarasota Manatee Airport Authority have reached a preliminary agreement on a land deal.

The property -- which is on the east side of the New College campus -- is currently leased.

At a recent Board of Trustees meeting, the school's attorney, Bill Galvano, outlined the terms of a purchase agreement.

"30.94 acres of that property will be transferred to New College of Florida -- to the state -- in exchange for a payment of 11.5 million dollars," he said.

New College plans to build new facilities on the land, and its president Richard Corcoran said he will ask the state for $50 million in funding towards campus improvements.

“Securing New College’s future by resolving the leases and acquiring this land has been a top priority since I arrived in February,” said Corcoran. “SRQ is a great neighbor, and the deal we’ve set in motion will benefit both organizations, which in turn elevates our entire region.”

Some detractors have questioned why the land would be made available given the airport's growth and expansion.

But Rick Piccolo, president and CEO of the SMAA, supports the move.

“This deal supports the immediate and long term needs of SRQ and provides future stability for New College, one of our community’s most special assets,” he said.

The agreement still needs to be approved by the Airport Authority Board of Directors. The Federal Aviation Administration also has to sign off on the deal.

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