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CLERMONT, FL-A new local airport with a first-phase, 3,500-foot runway and an adjoining industrial park are on the drawing boards for south Lake County, 25 miles west of Downtown Orlando, but the projects may remain there unless local government planners can find a 300-acre site that rural residents won’t fight.

Planners will submit site proposals to the Federal Aviation Authority by year end. The FAA makes the final site selection because it is paying for 90% of the project’s construction costs. The Florida Department of Transportation pays 5%. Local governments pay the remaining 5%.

A second two-year study kicks in after the FAA selects the site. The dirt alone could wind up costing the West Orange Airport Authority about $13 million ($1 per sf), local industrial appraisers familiar with the South Lake County market tell GlobeSt.com. The industrial park’s size and cost is still being determined.

Unabated demand by growing populations in Orlando’s western suburbs is pressuring local officials to find a new airport site that would accommodate spillover business from airports in Orlando, Kissimmee, FL and Leesburg, FL, 45 miles northwest of Downtown Orlando.

So far, the West Orange Airport Authority has struck out trying to find a suitable site in Orange County. But Lake County officials are allowing their Orange County brethren to look for land south of Clermont, a fast-growing Orlando bedroom community of 9,300 permanent residents.

West Orange officials are looking specifically at a 2,000-acre area eight miles south of State Road 50 and one mile east of U.S. 27, an area that is attracting a growing number of commercial and residential projects. The site is north of Shell Pond Road and between U.S. 27 and the Lake County-Orange County line.

But posing a possible stonewall in their search in the Clermont south area is the Reedy Creek Improvement District, the governmental arm of Walt Disney World. Reedy Creek owns most of the good dirt in this area, along with the 30,000 acres housing the theme parks and their attractions.

“You’ve got a situation here where the local airport authority, in a bind to find reasonably priced and well-located land, may have to give up the search in this particular area if Reedy Creek balks at selling any of its dirt,” Dean Fritchen, senior associated in the Winter Park, FL office of Arvida Realty Services Commercial Division, tells GlobeSt.com.

Two other sites local officials are considering are near the long-planned 38,000-acre, mixed-use Horizon West enterprise and a parcel north of Lake Apopka in Orange County.

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