Spirit-Frontier Merger Could Leave South Florida Headquarters Up In The Air
When the decision comes down on whether Spirit Airlines’ corporate headquarters will remain in South Florida, it will likely happen 2,000 miles outside of the tri-county area.
“We’ve got a delegation ready to fly to Denver,” said Bob Swindell, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance, Broward County’s leading economic development agency.
The Alliance and Broward Mayor Michael Udine are prepared to go to Colorado to make their case to keep Spirit’s high-paying corporate jobs here. They’ve mobilized just days after Denver-based Frontier Airlines (Nasdaq: ULCC) and Spirit (NYSE: SAVE) announced a $6.6 billion merger transaction that encompasses debt, including a $2.9 billion purchase price for Spirit. Frontier would own a 51.1% interest in the new corporation.
A selection committee led by Frontier Chairman William Franke will determine where the newly formed company would be based, following expected regulatory approvals on the deal. If the committee rules in favor of Denver being home to the combined companies’ main base of operations, it could potentially mean a loss of high-paying jobs in the region. A decision won’t be announced until either June, or when the deal is expected to close.
“The average wage is higher in corporate offices whether it is legal, accounting, or financial jobs,” Swindell said.
Meanwhile, Spirit — currently based in Miramar — will still move forward with the construction of a new office complex in Dania Beach, a corporate spokesperson told the Business Journal.
Spirit is expected to relocate its headquarters there in 2023. Until then, the company leases 56,000 square feet at 2800 Executive Way and an additional 15,000-square-foot facility at 2844 Corporate Way, both in Miramar. Those leases will expire in January 2025, according to the company’s most recent annual filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
The lease for its 26,000-square-foot expanded office at 2877-2899 N. Commerce Parkway in Miramar is expected to expire in February 2024.
For its Dania Beach move, Spirit purchased an 8.5-acre parcel for $41 million in the fourth quarter of 2019 and also entered into a 99-year agreement to lease a 2.6-acre parcel of land, where it’s in the process of building the headquarters campus for over 1,000 employees. It broke ground in January 2021 with an expected completion date of fall 2023.
Spirit’s plan for its mixed-use complex at Dania Pointe would include up to 500,000 square feet of office space, a 103,000-square-foot flight simulator, and 200 corporate apartment units. The first phase of the complex is being constructed on the land Spirit bought, at the corner of Bryan Road and Radiant Drive. Spirit also stated it would hire an additional 225 people between 2022 and 2026 for the new corporate outpost.
What’s more, landing the Spirit-Frontier headquarters could mean even more corporate jobs in the area.
The merger will enable both companies to add 10,000 more jobs nationwide, and “thousands of additional jobs at the companies’ business partners,” a Spirit spokeswoman stated.
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