By Liz Segrist
Published April 5, 2012
Plans for the nearly 3,500 acres of land surrounding the Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport could help recruit manufacturers or large companies to the Upstate.
“We want to help position the Upstate to go after the next BMW-type project that may be out there in the future,” GSP President and CEO Dave Edwards said during a GSA Business Power Breakfast Thursday.
GSP President and CEO Dave Edwards, left, and research economist Tom Tveidt discuss the future potential of the Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport. (Photo/firnFOTO)
Phase one of a long-term, land use study includes market analysis and data research. It began in October and is set to finish this October for a November vote by the Airport Commission.
“Many communities are stuck without support for airports and once you get behind, it’s hard to get ahead,” said Tom Tveidt, a SYNEVA Economics LLC research economist and Power Breakfast panelist. “I see airports as the future of local economies.”
The airport in Greensboro, N.C. put economic development at its core focus, Tveidt said. It recruited HondaJet, Timco Aviation Services and the FedEx hub, and now serves as its community’s center and future core of economic development.
GSP also plans to renovate and expand its terminal to increase functionality up from more than 600,000 in 2010 to accommodate up to 2 million passengers per year, to a potential 4 million passengers per year.
Renovations include a new glass facade, consolidated checkpoints; shopping and eating options post-checkpoint; and sustainable practices and check-in kiosks, ones that could potentially print both boarding passes and bag tags, which Edwards said is currently happening at some European airports.
“We are building a terminal that’s sensitive to the long-haul,” Edwards said. “Our facilities have been there for 50 years and we want our facilities to serve another 30, 40, 50 years.”
The airport expects the terminal project to be funded through federal grants and taxes already paid by passengers when buying plane tickets. It will not impact airfares. The airport will fund roughly $72 million of the $102.3 million terminal expansion and renovation.
“I never say never, but I don’t envision them to be tax payer projects,” Edwards said.
The terminal project team includes architect and engineer RS&H, program manager Jacobs Engineering and Skanska-Moss as the construction manager.
Part of GSP’s land reserved for development could remain natural or become a recreational component, such as walking trails for tourists and residents. The ratio of development to landscaping or natural elements isn’t determined yet. It could be split down the middle or be split 30/70 or vice versa, Edwards said.
“We probably won’t go to the extent of the Research Triangle, which only allows development of 15% of the land, because they’ve capped themselves. They are reevaluating that now,” Edwards said. “We want to make it a very nice environment with the campus feel and landscaping, but we want room to grow.”
It’s important to have space for future growth, Edwards said. He said he wants to avoid any future encroachment into residential areas, such as the zoning of several neighborhoods in the mid-1990s for expansions at the airports in Charlotte, N.C. and Louisville, Ky.
The airport recruited Southwest Airlines last year, launching operations in March 2011. GSP expects growth to continue in response to the “Southwest Effect,” as well as the airport’s economic development efforts.
“The more we can get revenue from other ways, the more we can keep tickets low and bring in other airlines,” Edwards said. “The more diverse the revenue streams, the better.”
Read the full story in the April 23 GSA Business issue. Subscribe here.