Friday, September 14, 2012

Pittsburgh International Airport's Airmall getting a $10 million makeover - Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Pittsburgh International Airport's popular Airmall is getting a new look to take into account the realities of passenger traffic after the loss of the US Airways hub.

Shops in the center core of the airport's boarding terminal will be reconfigured so that more of them will be visible to travelers heading toward their gates.

Before US Airways dropped its hub in Pittsburgh in 2004, some 80 percent of the traffic used concourses A and B off the center core. Now the traffic is more evenly spread among the airport's four concourses.

While the center core used to be the Airmall's "Boardwalk and Park Place," about one third of the specialty stores are now hidden from the view of passengers as they head for other concourses, said Jay Kruisselbrink, vice president of development for Airmall USA.

Under the proposed remodeling, some of the retail space in the center core will be reconfigured so passengers will have a view of most shops as they come up the escalators from the tram.

While the overall square footage of Airmall shops and restaurants won't change, another 14,000 square feet will be added to the center core. As part of the remodeling, some shops will be relocated and eight new ones will be added.

"We're excited about this project. We think it's great for the airport, we think it's great for the Airmall and we think it's great for the community," Mr. Kruisselbrink said.

Airmall USA hopes to start construction in early 2013 and have the renovations completed by the end of the year. It will contribute $5 million toward the improvements, and shops collectively will add another $5 millon.

With the remodeling, the Airmall hopes to increase spending per passenger, now about $14, by 10 percent to 20 percent.

The renovations are part of an agreement approved today to extend the length of the Airmall USA lease from the end of 2017 to the end of 2029. As part of the deal, the Airmall will pay 59 percent of gross revenues to the Allegheny County Airport Authority through the end of 2017. That will then increase to 77 percent through 2029.

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