Sunday, February 18, 2018
Business

Take a look at the new Tampa International Airport

TAMPA

Take a glimpse at the future of Tampa International Airport:

When renovations of the main terminal are finished by 2017, it will be a sleeker, brighter, more modern space.

It will also be wide open. The floor-to-ceiling glass storefronts in the center of the airport will be gone, pushed out to the walls alongside a new lineup of places to eat, drink and shop.

That will make the center of the new terminal more airy. People will be able to walk through the middle of the airport to get to their flights.

"You can see clear across the terminal when you walk in," said airport chief executive officer Joe Lopano.

The entrances to the airside shuttles will be pushed outward to create more space inside the terminal. Glass walls will allow patrons to see their trams arriving.

The new design will allow more sunlight into the terminal. New outside spaces will be created for eating, drinking and even relaxing in a new garden.

These are the actual designs — not conceptual drawings — of the future third-floor terminal that were unveiled during Monday's meeting of the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority, the board that oversees the airport.

The board then approved plans to pay for $1 billion in airport construction, upgrades and repairs that will remake Tampa International Airport from the inside and out.

It is one of the largest public infrastructure projects in Tampa Bay, one that airport officials said will create more than 9,000 construction jobs (and preserve existing ones) worth $370 million in wages. The project is also expected to boost tourism spending in the bay area by $630 million in the next two decades, according to officials.

"Today was a really big day for Tampa, for the airport, for Tampa Bay, for everybody," Lopano said. "We've got a billion-dollar project here that is creating 9,000 jobs over the next three years."

"It's the biggest project we've ever done."

The final design plans will be presented to the board later this year. Groundbreaking is expected to start this fall, and all of the work is slated to be finished by October 2017.

The $1 billion in spending that the airport board approved Monday will be just the start of changes at the airport. Eventually, the airport plans to spend a total of $4.1 billion to add, expand and enhance the airport over the next two decades.

Here's a breakdown of how the $1 billion will be spent:

• $122.5 million to expand and modernize the third-floor terminal by 55,000 square feet and revamp all of its concession options, bringing in a newer, bigger lineup of restaurants, bars and shops. There will still be kiosks and counters in the center of the airport.

• About $70 million for significant maintenance — $30.7 million to rebuild the Taxiway J and bridge for commercial airliners; $21.4 million to improve road work to the south of the airport; and $17.2 million to build a new concessions warehouse and flight kitchen facility.

• $84.2 million from this year's capital improvement budget on numerous enhancements, including a new $58 million baggage system.

• $318.7 million on a 2.3 million-square-foot consolidated rental car facility south of the airport, and $417.5 million to build a 1.3-mile automated people mover to connect it to the terminal.

By moving the car rental facilities out of the main terminal, the airport will reduce traffic on its roads and extend the life of those roads without rebuilding them. Moving the rental companies also creates room to eventually expand the 43-year-old main terminal building.

The new car rental facility will give the airport room to build a lucrative new "airtropolis" along its southern edge which could house new restaurants, shops and businesses that would generate revenue for the airport.

The airport will pay for repairs and upgrades using its capital budget and federal dollars. But the cost of new construction will be financed using debt serviced by increased car rental and plane ticket fees. The airport hopes it will get hundreds of millions from the Florida Department of Transportation and federal loans to help pay for the work but has financial contingency plans in place to finish the project without any outside funds if need be.

Said Lopano: "2017 will be a big year for us."

Jamal Thalji can be reached at (813) 226-3404, [email protected] or @jthalji on Twitter.

     
 
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