Johnson County residents didn’t get to vote on the new terminal at Kansas City International Airport, but they enthusiastically shared ideas Tuesday night with the designers and developers for the $1 billion project.
They want swift check-in and security, comfortable waiting areas, more food options, ample Wi-Fi and the most advanced technology possible.
They’d like convenient bag drop-off and electric car chargers in the close-in parking garage, and a global entry point for international travel.
Plus, they want something that says this airport is unique to Kansas City.
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More than 100 people turned out for a design open house at the University of Kansas Edwards Campus, one of a series of public forums organized by Maryland-based Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate LLC, the lead firm in the airport’s development team.
The other sessions have been in Kansas City, but this was held in Johnson County because so many of KCI’s passengers live there.
“It’s the front porch” of the city and the region, Matt Franzenburg of Overland Park said in describing the airport’s importance.
He liked the idea of a mini-Nelson Gallery somewhere in the airport, with rotating exhibits from the art museum. Plus, he suggested, the airport could have exhibit spaces featuring the area’s sports teams, its rich history and depictions of tourist attractions like Union Station and the Country Club Plaza.
Franzenburg said he’s seen the preliminary designs for the new terminal and liked how it appears to be very open and spacious. “It doesn’t feel cramped,” he said.
Kansas City voters overwhelmingly approved the single-terminal airport proposal by a 3-to-1 margin in November.
Besides Edgemoor, the development team consists of numerous other companies, including Kansas City-based Clarkson Construction and Chicago-based SOM Architecture.
Kansas City residents have already told the designers that they want a new terminal that’s convenient and reflective of the city’s great qualities and history. Johnson County residents echoed those sentiments but said they were excited about the possibilities for a new terminal.
Kelli Rodvelt of Overland Park suggested the airport should have spaces conducive for business travelers to get work done, and maybe even special business meeting rooms so travelers wouldn’t have to leave the airport.
Ron Peine, also of Overland Park, said the amenities and restaurants should give travelers a genuine taste of Kansas City, including barbecue and other local food specialties.
Chris Crank of Overland Park urged Kansas City Aviation Director Pat Klein to try to save the existing airport’s blue terrazzo floor. Klein said that’s being explored, although the terrazzo may crumble when it’s removed. He said parts of the floor can possibly be preserved in a mosaic.
“We’re going to do something,” Klein pledged. “That’s something we’ve heard at every forum.”
Some liked the preliminary architectural renderings of a two-story fountain in the main departure area. But Klein acknowledged that he’s got to be assured it won’t be a maintenance nightmare and a costly humidity headache before he’ll sign off on that design feature.
Participants also had practical suggestions, such as water-bottle filling stations past security, so people don’t have to buy a $6 bottle of water.
Klein told participants that the ideas from all the forums will be presented to the City Council’s Airport Committee in January, and the best, cost-effective ideas will be incorporated into the design.
The ambitious schedule calls for demolishing the existing terminal A beginning in late 2018 and building a new terminal at that location while terminals B and C continue to operate. The hope is to finish the project by late 2021 or early 2022.
Two more design open house workshops are planned this week, both from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
▪ Dec. 13 at the Downtown Library, 14 W. 10th St. in Kansas City.
▪ Dec. 14 at the Kansas City Police Department’s South Patrol, 9701 Marion Park Drive.