Chattanooga Airport Plans $7.2 Million Renovation Of Terminal

Thursday, March 28, 2013 - by Gail Perry
Rendering of the Chattanooga Airport Dome
Rendering of the Chattanooga Airport Dome

Approval was given Thursday afternoon at the meeting of the Chattanooga Airport Board of Commissioners for a $7.2 million renovation project of the passenger terminal. This is the largest, most significant project for the building since it opened in 1992.

Gone will be the teal green and mauve tile and paint. The new palette will consist of dark neutrals that are intended to emphasize the architectural elements that will be used in the renovations. Warm grey tile will be on floors in the ticketing and baggage claim areas as well as the concourse aisles that will have coordinating grey carpet in the seating areas. Laminated wood-look surfaces will be used around entrances and other areas that have direct contact with customers. Stainless steel accents will be used throughout to provide “sparkle and polish,” said Sandy Hauser, interior designer for the project.

A focal point will be created by using pops of red in limited areas for “a little perk”. This ribbon of red will draw the eye down a concourse. Red glass tiles will be on walls in the pre-security café. Metallic red paint will be used on walls in a bistro-type bar on the concourse, and shades of rusty red will be used to recover seating in the concourse and baggage claim spaces. Signage throughout the terminal will also be red.

The design is by the local architectural firm Derthick, Henley and Wilkerson that also worked on the original building. Local construction company EMJ will be responsible for implementing the changes that will include renovation of flooring, walls, new archways, painting, and signage. The existing restrooms will be gutted and rebuilt with new walls, tile, fixtures and partitions, as will be the concession areas. All entry doors and the ticketing desks will be replaced with materials having an architectural store-front style. The information booth will be moved and an archway built leading into baggage claim. Utilities will be replaced as well as the escalator system in the rotunda. The entire exterior made of pre-cast materials will be re-caulked.

The design has been centered on simplicity and durability. For example, the maintenance department was instrumental in choosing fixtures for ease of cleaning. The classic, warm, dark neutral palette incorporating wood and stainless steel is designed for longevity and should be relevant for the next 10-20 years, officials said.

The re-model of the building is seen as a way for people who land in Chattanooga to feel the creativity and excitement of the city, it was stated. Board members suggested that regional artwork be used in the terminal and also discussed the use of tasteful sponsorship banners from regional businesses. Airport President Terry Hart responded that he had already reached out to the Tennessee Aquarium for its participation. Board member Jim Hall suggested using artwork or banners to showcase the mountains and outdoor legacy surrounding the city in order to excite visitors.

Planning for this project has been ongoing since October 2011. Work is scheduled to begin in late April or early May and should be completed by February 2014. It will be fully functional during that time with minimal inconvenience for passengers due to pre-planning. There will also be construction barriers to shield the construction, and a lot of the work will take place at night when airport use is light.

Funding will come from multiple sources. Passenger Facility Charges (PFC) which is a $4.50 fee for each ticket bought will supply 64 percent of the cost. The State Equity Fund, which is collected by the state on the sales of aviation fuel, will provide 32 percent. Two percent will come from the Customer Facility Charge (CFC), which is a  fee collected from car rentals, and two percent will be from Airport Authority funds. The total cost for the renovation will be $7,199,997. The price tag of the original structure in the early 1990s was $13 million.

In other business, the board of commissioners approved funding of $23,990 for repairs to the up escalator and $26,680 for improving field lighting. A new phone system will be upgraded with $13,837, and re-marking the airfield for added reflectivity for the cost of $21,815, will both be done with reallocated capital funds. The roof on the dome and terminal will be replaced starting tomorrow and should be completed in 90 days. The cost of $404,000 for this work was approved by the board.

Other expenditures that received board approval are for demolition of the old Volvo, BMW and Infinity buildings on Brainerd Road, including pavement removal, grading and seeding which will be done for $673,900. A one-year renewal for the lease of space on the lower portion of the airport terminal was given approval. The tenant, Express Air Jet that services ASA, will pay $4,939 paid in advance each month for the space.

Attorney Hugh Moore reported to the board that a settlement had been reached in a long pending “trip and fall” case. The accident in February 2005 resulted in serious injuries, and the Airport Authority and Republic Parking were sued for $750,000. Attorney Moore said the case was sent to mediation and has been settled on behalf of the Authority for $50,000 plus $1,000 as a share of the mediation cost. He recommended and received approval of the settlement, and told the board a complete release will be gotten from the plaintiff. The board expressed appreciation for the support they received from the insurance carrier for this case.

In the president’s report, Mr. Hart said boardings in 2012 were up one percent. There was a decline of five percent in January, however, which he attributed to bad weather and cancellations. He told the board ups and downs in boarding are expected short term but that he is confident the continued growth of the community will contribute to increased boardings overall. Air cargo increased 125 percent last year and rose 26 percent in January. This is seen as a direct reflection of regional businesses, he said.

Rendering of a Chattanooga Airport Terminal
Rendering of a Chattanooga Airport Terminal

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