Indianapolis Airport Authority and Indianapolis International Airport and Airport parking and Airports and Transportation, Distribution & Logistics

Airport speeds demolition of former passenger terminal

December 28, 2012
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The former passenger terminal and administration building at Indianapolis International Airport could be rubble by this time next year.

The Indianapolis Airport Authority has accelerated plans to raze the weed-covered complex, abandoned when the midfield terminal opened in 2008.

Demolition had been budgeted to take place over multiple years. But the authority has accelerated the schedule to one year to improve the odds of attracting a new user.

A “blank slate” approach would “substantially increase the area’s marketability, improving the [authority’s] ability to host a project that can offer widespread economic benefits for the region,” Susan Zellers, the airport’s director of planning and project management, told the airport authority board last week.

The 315-acre site on the eastern end of the airport near Interstate 465 offers direct airfield access. So it’s a natural for an air cargo hub, aircraft repair facility or perhaps even as an aircraft factory.

The old terminal’s 1,800-space parking garage will be preserved for use by a new tenant or tenants.

The authority has an $11.3 million budget for demolishing the terminal and the six-story administration building. Moving up the timetable means finding ways to defer or extend other capital projects in a previously approved 2013 capital budget.

The authority also is looking at whether any federal money might be available to reduce its own cash outlay. An aircraft warning light sits atop the former administration building, so the FAA Airports Improvement Program might be tapped, for example.

Parts of the old terminal date to the 1930s. The authority this month hired architectural/engineering consulting firm DLZ Indiana LLC to investigate what environmental hazards might be present, such as asbestos. 

The firm also will determine the best way to demolish the buildings, said airport spokesman Carlo Bertolini.

The next major step will be awarding contracts to demolition firms, sometime early in 2013.

In its real estate marketing plan, the authority has broken up the terminal site and its vast sea of surface parking lots into distinct parcels that could be suitable for multiple tenants. But airport officials haven’t given up hope of landing a single, mega-size tenant.

Currently, the largest single tenant at the airport is FedEx, which operates its No. 2 U.S. cargo hub on the southeast side of the airport. One “fantasy” tenant would be another big cargo carrier such as United Parcel Service, although UPS already operates its primary U.S. air hub in nearby Louisville.

Indianapolis International already has a large aircraft repair facility—the former United Airlines maintenance base—operated by Chicago-based aviation firm AAR Corp.

FedEx and Indianapolis-based Republic Airways Holdings also have large maintenance facilities at the airport.

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