The Garden City Commission unanimously approved a request for the consideration of funds for the construction of a new terminal at Garden City Regional Airport, a project that would result in an larger, updated facility that would allow the airport to accommodate larger aircrafts.

The request, the Federal Aviation Administration Supplemental Appropriation Project Request for fiscal years 2018-2020, potentially could secure $20 million for the $26.85 million terminal construction project. Should the city receive the funding, it still must finance or find outside payment for the remaining $6.85 million, said Rachelle Powell, director of aviation at Garden City Regional Airport.

Mayor Roy Cessna said the city has looked into enhancing the terminal for some time, and had long looked for ways to bring in larger airplanes and more airlines. The first step, he said, was a larger terminal.

“It’s great that we’re moving forward. It will help us become a true regional hub and destination for air travel in western Kansas…” Cessna said. “The airport’s kind of the front door to the community for a lot of people, and when you get on a plane in Dallas on a sky bridge and then you get off the plane here and walk down a little ramp, it’s a little different. With the new terminal and proposed sky bridge, that will help with the first impression of people coming into our community…”

In July 2017, the City of Garden City and Federal Aviation Administration entered into the Airport Improvement Program, or AIP, grant agreement to conduct the 2018 Terminal Area Plan.

After a year of analysis, alongside the HNTB Corp., the airport’s contracted engineering firm, staff determined through the plan that the current terminal, built in 1959, could no longer be adequately expanded and recommended a new terminal to better serve the airport’s growth, Powell said. Since 2011, the airport has seen a 5.5 percent increase in the market share of passenger traffic, according to city documents.

“We’ve kind of outgrown our space…” Powell said.

The city and airport later agreed to a two-level design, the cheaper of two options, that would demolish and replace the current facility, except the administration building, over an extended construction process, Powell said.

Everything regarding passengers, including the ticketing counter, expanded holdroom, security and baggage claim areas, lobby and rental car desk would sit on the first floor.

The partial second level would house the airport restaurant with a balcony and a public observation area of the runway. It would facilitate the airport’s frequent visitors sending off and awaiting loved ones, but also those with an interest in aviation, Powell said. She was unsure whether the airport’s current restaurant, Napoli’s Italian Restaurant, would still hold the space after the construction process, but was hopeful it would stay.

The two-year construction process, broken down in three phases of demolition and construction, likely would be “frustrating” for customers since they would have to move between the two in-flux facilities, Powell said.

At completion, however, there would be more open spaces, the security measures would be enhanced with a full body imager, a baggage claim carousel would bring luggage to customers sooner and passengers would move between the airport and plane on a jet bridge, Powell said.

“The overall experience will increase for the passenger,” Powell said.

The airport, now on a partial security plan, would move to a full security plan, Powell said, meaning the infrastructure would be reinforced with more locked doors and gates, and all personnel coming through the airfield gates would have background checks.

The increased security also would mean the airport could accomodate larger aircrafts, Powell said. At the moment, the terminal’s daily two round-trip flights with American Airlines are limited to 50-seat regional jets, but the new terminal would be able to service 70-seat aircrafts.

More seats also likely would mean reduced airfare, hopefully drawing in potential local customers that drive to larger metropolitan airports to purchase cheaper flights, Powell said.

Powell said the FAA would notify the city of its decision regarding the request in four to six months. If it is approved, the city must submit a Federal AIP Grant application to the project by May 2019, and if approved, would receive the grant in September 2019.

Best-case scenario, construction would begin in November 2019 and last approximately two years, Powell said. Since the construction would be done in phases, the airport would never close and the flight schedule would not be affected, she said.

In other business Tuesday:

• Commissioners approved a development plan and established a rural housing incentive district for the Chappel Heights Third Addition, a housing subdivision entering its third phase that will add 37 single family homes. Through the RHID, the developer will privately fund the eligible costs, and the city will reimburse property tax increments up to $1,606,232 over the life of the project, capped at 15 years. At a hearing preceding the motion, Bernard Chappel, the project’s developer, fielded commissioner questions at the hearing, but no one else spoke.

• The commission set a date for a public hearing to consider adopting a development plan and establishing an RHID for Hamptons Addition, a housing division that will consist of 255 single family home lots. The hearing will be at 1:30 p.m. Nov. 6.

• Pedro Rodriguez, Democratic candidate for the state House 123rd district, and his campaign manager presented a survey regarding public desire for a local four-year university to the commission during the public comments section. Cessna said the commission would review it.

 

Contact Amber Friend at afriend@gctelegram.com.