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DALLAS-The countdown is on for a witching hour implosion of the 554-room Hyatt Hotel West at Dallas-Ft. Worth International Airport. The Sept. 16 razing marks the first major milestone in the construction of a $1.08-billion international terminal, connecting 300-room Grand Hyatt and 100,000 sf of retail space.

Much ado has been made of two million-sf International Terminal D, the first new one since 1976 and part of a $2.6-billion capital improvement program at the nation’s third busiest facility. To date, 1,000 piers have been sunk and all excavation of the 29-acre site is complete.

Terminal D promises to be the “crown jewel” to the 18,000-acre airport, with cornerstones of 100,000 sf of retail space in an innovative “concession village” design. Much akin to the pedestrian-friendly town centers now dotting Texas, the villages are designed to be destination points rather than usual central court fare, Clay Paslay, executive vice president of airport development, tells GlobeSt.com. Live entertainment stages, children’s play areas and business service venues are being viewed with the same retail potential as eateries, beverage and newsstand tenants. “We’re looking for an exciting and dynamic place for visitors,” says Paslay, who estimates the first lease signings are a year out.

Pat Gleason, the airport’s vice president of concessions, will be courting a wide spectrum of retail prospects, possibly entertaining proposals from retailers abroad who’ve never ventured into the US market. “It will be a real cross-section,” Paslay promises although the RFPs have yet to be floated.

The existing terminals contain 155,000 sf of concession space, basically in center court or inline shop fashion. FY 2001 is shaping up to be a record sales year, with projections riding at close to $140 million. “We’re excited about the potential retail sales volume the new International Terminal D will generate,” says Jeffrey P. Fegan, the airport’s CEO.

The terminal, due to deliver in first quarter 2005, will consolidate all international arrivals and departures from the existing three facilities. HKS Architects and Corgan Associates Architects, both of Dallas, and H&TB of Alexandria, VA are fine-tuning the design of the tony terminal, which is featuring 70-foot ceilings in the concession villages. Austin Commercial of Dallas is the construction manager.

Terminal D will have 23 wide-body gates, 120 ticketing stations, moving sidewalks from the complementary 8,100-spot parking garage, interior access to the Grand Hyatt Hotel and a pedestrian skybridge. Its Federal inspection facility will be capable of processing 2,800 passengers per hour.

Paslay confides the airport authority has plans on the drawing board for additional upgrades to round out the look being created by Terminal D at its sister facilities. It’s all about driving a synergy of comfort for travelers and perhaps even a destination point for the locals, given the broad scale of retailers and entertainment venues that will be wooed.

Travelers aren’t without a Hyatt throughout all the airport construction; there is another on the east side. The soon-to-be-gone Hyatt Hotel West was constructed in 1974. The up-and-coming Grand Hyatt will feature meeting rooms, conference areas, rooftop pool and spa.

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