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    News in Depth
    And First on

    City Hall Wants LB Airport Addition -- Larger Footprint Than Terminal Building -- Linked To South Side of Terminal

    City Staff Says 38,000 sq. ft. Addition Is To Handle 41 Comm'l + 25 Commuter Flights/Day...But It's Bigger Than Previously Recommended For These Levels

    Proposed Airport Addition Would Enlarge LB Airport Terminal/Passenger Hold & Bag Claim Footprint From Roughly 23,000 sq. ft. A Few Yrs. Ago To Over 60,000 sq. ft.

    City Staffer Indicates Newly Completed Temporary Facility On North Side May Likely Be Replaced With Permanent Facility

    Plans revealed at Cultural Heritage Commission meeting

    (July 26, 2002) -- LB City Hall seeks to build a LB Airport addition larger than the current terminal building footprint, linked by a corridor to the terminal's south side and extending westward.

    The addition -- roughly 38,000 square feet for passenger hold room, concessions, security screening and baggage claim areas (itemized below) -- is bigger than passenger holding increases City Hall declared necessary in 1997 to handle 41 commercial + 25 commuter flights (details below). City staff says the addition is needed to handle the 41 + 25 flight level because larger planes, higher load factors (percentage of filled seats) and new security reasons mean previous estimates are now undersized.

    In an Application for a Certificate of Appropriateness from City Hall's Cultural Heritage Commission (the terminal bldg. is a historic landmark), city staff indicated the 38,000 square foot addition would consist of:

    • 12,000 square foot extension of hold room
    • 3,500 square foot concession area
    • 2,500 square foot extension of security screening area
    • 19,000+ square foot area for baggage claim with three claim devices (plus restrooms and ancillary offices). This area would be basically open to the east with a canopy but with walls toward the west and south.

    The LB Airport terminal building area has a footprint of roughly 13,700 sq. ft. Its 1980's passenger hold room is variously reckoned at roughly 6,000-8,000 sq. ft and its current south side bag claim area is estimated at roughly 3,000 sq. ft. for a total of approx. 23,000 sq. ft. That was LB Airport's footprint for passenger buildings and facilities just a few years ago.

    With a temporary facility completed in April, 2002 on the north side of the terminal (roughly 8,600 sq. ft. hold room plus temporary bag claim area), the proposed 38,000 sq. ft. south side addition would enlarge LB Airport passenger related buildings and facilities footprint to over 60,000 sq. ft.

    The application, submitted to the Cultural Heritage Commission by City Hall's Engineering Bureau, said the reason for the proposed addition to the south is, "The existing facilities are insufficient for the number of passengers resulting from the number of flights allowed at the Airport (41 commercial and 25 commuter, October 2002)."

    In July 17 testimony to the Cultural Heritage Commission, Rachel Korkos of City Hall's Airport Bureau noted the total 38,000 sq. ft. addition is bigger than previously recommended for the maximum 41 + 25 flight levels but insisted it remains sized to these flight levels. Ms. Korkos said JetBlue's higher load factors and Sept. 11 security requirements showed previously recommended additions were "undersized."

    In 1997, City Hall publicly adopted a Negative Declaration (finding no significant environmental impacts) for a plan to build two new hold rooms, each of 5,760 sq. ft. (combined 11,520 sq. ft.) to handle a total capacity of 866 persons. Each building was to be 120'x 48'.

    The 1997 Negative Declaration described the project as necessary to accommodate 41 commercial flights and referenced a 1995 Subsequent Negative Declaration adopted with the Council's enactment of LB's Airport Noise Compatibility Ordinance which allows 41 commercial plus 25 commuter noise budgeted flights per day.

    City staff says the difference between its 1997 approved plan and its larger proposal now is due to larger planes carrying higher passenger loads, plus security considerations. LB Airport spokesperson Sharon Diggs-Jackson noted for that JetBlue uses new A320 Airbus aircraft (which carry roughly 160 passengers) and fly at roughly 92% load factors (close to being filled). "So right there, that's an increase in passengers based on the size of the plane and the load factors alone," she said. Ms. Diggs-Jackson also noted that security concerns since Sept. 11 require greater secured areas.

    The artist rendering below was provided on request to by the City of LB, courtesy HNTB. HNTB is a prominent engineering, architectural and planning firm which designed the Airport addition City Hall proposes.

    The wall in the forefront of the artist rendering will "hide" the existing electrical building and electrical upgrades/improvements. The wall will be roughly 60' long compared to the terminal bldg. which is over 175' long. The holdroom extension is "behind" (westward from) the bag claim area and not seen in this perspective. It will have white panels similar to the bag claim area.

    We cite the following square footage figures with caveats because square footage is sometimes computed differently (including interior vs. exterior, with or without restrooms, etc.)

    In response to an inquiry by, Ms. Korkos indicated the footprint of the current terminal building (i.e. airline counters, concessions, baggage intake and ticketing) is roughly 13,700 sq. ft. and the main building's 1980's built passenger hold area has roughly 6,000 sq. ft of actual passenger holding capacity. Airport spokeswoman Sharon Diggs-Jackson cites a hold room figure of roughly 8,000 sq. ft.

    The "temporary" passenger holding facility (completed in April '02) to the north of the main building has roughly 8,440 sq. ft. of holding capacity (per Korkos) or roughly 8,600 sq. ft. (per Diggs-Jackson).

    The roughly 12,000 sq. ft. of proposed additional passenger holding capacity would be in addition to this.

    We calculate (conservatively) this would mean passenger holding capacity of over 26,000 sq. ft...roughly three and half to four times what LB Airport had just a few years ago and nearly double what it has today.

    The proposed addition means City Hall seeks to enlarge LB Airport's passenger related buildings and facilities from roughly 23,000 sq. ft. just a few years ago to over 60,000 sq. ft.

    It is presently unclear whether City Hall will treat the changed circumstances it says justify a larger project as sufficient to warrant further public environmental review of the Airport addition.

    Transcript excerpts (unofficial, prepared by us) of the Cultural Heritage Commission meeting follow:

    Ms. Korkos: With JetBlue ramping up the flights [ note: JetBlue took all 27 remaining commercial flight slots following a May, 2001 City Council vote which did not publicly mention JetBlue, amending the Airport's flight slot allocation procedures] it became quickly obvious that we were out of room at the Airport and could not accommodate the passengers. So to accommodate them in the short term because permanent improvements could not be constructed in the time frame needed, we built temporary improvements to the north side...We constructed an approximate 8,000 square foot modular facility [on the north side]...This was built just in April.

    The new proposed improvements are all to the south of the existing terminal building. They're not attached to the terminal building [they're connected by a corridor]...

    ...In 1996, the Airport [contracted with a firm not involved now] to determine the deficiencies that the Airport's support facilities had in anticipation of the passengers that we expected based on the 41 air carriers flights allowed and the 25 commuter slots allowed. [ note: These flights didn't materialize at that time although City Hall hoped they would.] A Negative Declaration was prepared following that study to clear the way for the improvements [in 1997, see details below] and HNTB [a prominent engineering, architectural and planning firm] came on board following that to actually design the improvements.

    A lot's happened over the last two years, as I'm sure you are a little familiar with in the paper, and we now have all 41 air carrier slots filled. We have no commuter slots filled right now. We went through several iterations on the design. Number one, we had now three air carriers firmly established that had all 41 flights. We were able to work with them to operationally design this facility to meet their needs. We knew what kind of aircraft they were flying. We knew what kind of load factors they had. JetBlue has a phenomenal load factor. They fly out almost 100% full every single flight, so we realized the designs, improvements recommended by [the previous study] were undersized. So we took another look at this and came up with this final design.

    Also, following the tragic events of Sept. 11, security screening at airports underwent major changes, and looking back at the design we realized that what we had designed at that time [based on the previous study] was also insufficient. We needed more room...

    Commissioner Pressburg: How much larger is the addition, actually it looks more like an expansion, than the original terminal?...Have we doubled the size of the airport now, or have we, I'm just curious, because that looks awfully big. [Commissioners were shown construction (line drawing type) plans and a physical model, but the artist rendering we posted above was provided to us at our request after the meeting by the City of LB, courtesy designer HNTB.]

    Commissioner Pressburg's question didn't receive a numerical answer at the meeting, but his quick eyeball assessment was roughly correct.

    The proposed 38,000 sq. ft. addition is nearly three times the size of the terminal building footprint, and nearly twice the size of the Airport terminal building footprint plus its attached passenger holding room (13,700 sq. ft terminal plus roughly 6,000-8,000 sq. ft. passenger hold room = roughly 20,000 sq. ft.).

    At the Cultural Heritage Commission meeting, Ms. Korkos also indicated that the recently completed (April '02) temporary facility on the north side of the terminal will likely become a permanent facility...possibly another terminal.

    "In the future, we're probably looking at putting a permanent structure here [on the north side]. Although this facility has been designed for our peak hour...if the increase in commuter flights happens in the next few years, we're going to need another permanent facility here. So it's going to be phased out. It's not going to remain modular," Ms. Korkos said.

    If city staff's proposed addition to the terminal's south takes place, and possible plans to the north transpire, the Airport's terminal building would be flanked on the south (mainly extending westward) by an addition larger than the terminal building itself and on the north with what might eventually become another terminal.

    The Cultural Heritage Commissioners discussed the issue of the 38,000 sq. foot addition for over an hour before voting -- in a sharply split 8-5 decision -- to approve the Certificate of Appropriateness for City Hall's plans as submitted with the notation that the addition does not destroy or remove historic materials from the terminal building and is consistent with Sec'y of the Interior's standards 9 and 10. (Yes: Cofield, Downey, Ibbetson, McGuan, Motschall, Smith, Chartier, Burrous. No: DeGiorgio, Doherty, Johnson, Pressburg, Weaver. Absent: Salas-Rock, Wynne).

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