VOL. 119 | NO. 66 | Tuesday, April 12, 2005
By Andy Meek
Airport Readies to Roll Out More
Terminal to fully showcase citys flavor by years end
The Daily News
For many of the 11 million annual travelers at Memphis
International Airport, hectic flight schedules make it impossible to leave the
airport terminal and explore the city. That means swarms of travelers leaving
Memphis without the taste of barbecue, the sights and sounds of Beale Street or
the flavor of local attractions like Soulsville and Pink Palace Museum.
Distinctively Memphis. Thats
why, with a $25 million renovation under way that includes new retail options, airport officials are shining a spotlight on Memphis brand
Scott Brockman, executive vice president with the
Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority, said several new retail shops and
concessionaires will be unveiled at the airport with a distinctly local flavor.
Retail stores will carry items from the Memphis Zoo and Soulsville, and
high-profile local eateries such as Hueys and Grisantis
Bol-A-Pasta will line the terminals corridors. Its
all an attempt to elevate the airports profile, Brockman said.
And its especially intended for those travelers who cant
leave the terminal.
Its all so that, even if you never leave the airport, you
could get a sense of what the tourist things are for you to do in Memphis, he
Major revamp. By the
end of the year, a major revamp of the airports concessions and retail
operations will have wrapped up, encompassing changes or new construction at 46
stores over 18 months. New stores and restaurants at Memphis International
Airport include Sun Studio Cafe and what will be the first Godiva
chocolate retail store in any airport in the country.
Many additions been given high-quality treatment; at Maggie
OSheas, an Irish pub that opened in the airport in December, some wood used
in the restaurant was imported from Ireland.
Major projects. Besides
those retail improvements, several outside projects are under way at the
airport, including the Federal Aviation Administrations plan for a new air traffic control tower. In addition, FedEx is preparing to
start site work on a spot to accommodate the A380 large-scale freighter plane
and will build a maintenance hangar for it.
Its the largest plane that will fly commercially, and we
will not get the passenger version in Memphis, but we will have the freighter
version, said Bob Beesley, director of development
for the Airport Authority. We anticipate delivery of the first ones in 2007
and then periodically annually till 2010.
Airport officials also are preparing for site improvement
work on almost 200 acres at the southeast portion of the airport, Beesley said. That work will include the new site of the
Air National Guard, which will occupy the facility in 2008.
Shops and activities. In
the meantime, Brockman said one of the focal points of the renovation is
happening in the airports B-concourse rotunda. Plans have been sketched to
turn the site into a major retail area Brockman compared to a mini-mall.
The rotunda is where the airports largest number of shops
and activities will be situated. The area is also being given a new visual
treatment, with an elevated roof encircled by windows that will illuminate
panels depicting Memphis scenes.
On the floor, a large-scale map of the world has been
designed, with Memphis in the center of the room. Music notes, a large keyboard
and a guitar radiate from the drawing.
Part of that hidden statement is just Memphis music,
Brockman said. And it fits in with trying to provide that distinct flavor of
Memphis, part of which is blues and the culture. There never used to be any
natural light in the rotunda, so the volume of light that now comes into the
facility is tremendous.
The plan is in four different locations around that circle;
there will be translucent panels that during the daytime will be illuminated by
natural light. And somebody standing down in the rotunda will get a picture
graphic of the sights, sounds and feel of Memphis.
Seeing the city. The
design is still being worked out, but Brockman speculated there will be a
transportation panel that will illustrate the citys distribution and
transportation systems, in addition to a panel focused on the arts. Other
panels could feature Memphis landmarks and hype the citys distinctive sound.
The idea is to display a montage of Memphis scenes and
images so anyone passing through the rotunda can learn something about the
Brockman said the major changes are an attempt to give
travelers too busy to explore the city a chance to see what theyre missing.
Their travels will take them right through this gift shop
area, so were trying to make it convenient for them and bring offerings that
they would want, Brockman said. And all of this is intended to show that
Memphis International is a world-class airport program.