A year after COVID-19 put projects on hold, Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport relaunched plans to build an on-site “first-class” hotel.
GSP Airport District staff are accepting proposals from hotel developers until March 26. A pre-proposal conference with several potential companies was held on February 24.
âWe think this will be a big project not just for the airport but for the entire region,â said Scott Carr, vice president of business affairs and communications at GSP.
Carr said he hopes all proposals will be ranked for the Airports Commission to consider at its May 18 meeting. The commission governs the airport district, which oversees 220 full-time employees.
He said details such as total cost and construction schedule will not be known until proposals are received.
Carr said business travelers have long wondered why GSP doesn’t have a hotel on-site like other similar-sized airports. For example, the Knoxville, Tennessee Airport has a full-service Hilton and Huntsville, Alabama has a Four Points by Sheraton hotel on-site, he said.
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Carr acknowledged that there are several hotels in the upstate that cater for air travelers. But business travelers, who account for 60 to 65 percent of all passenger air traffic at GSP, said they wanted a hotel on-site.
âIt all comes down to a matter of convenience,â he said.
In November 2019, airport officials met with eight hotel developers who expressed interest in the project. Plans were underway to send out requests for proposals, Carr said.
The airport had just enjoyed a record year of air traffic with more than 2.6 million passengers entering or exiting GSP, and officials anticipated continued growth in the years to come.
But then, in March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic struck, causing a huge drop in passenger air travel and forcing officials to delay the hotel project.
The $ 75 million construction of parking lot C and the car rental garage next to the terminal building has also been delayed. The garage will provide 750 new parking spaces and 750 return rental car spaces.
On February 1, the airport district issued a tender “to develop and manage a full-service hotel with a national brand of hotel franchise that is generally recognizable by business travelers.”
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The hotel will be built on 42,500 square feet of land at the terminal building, between hall B and parking garage B.
According to the tender, the airport district is looking for a developer “who will succeed in creating a full-service hotel that is aesthetically appealing and pleasing and fully compatible with the airport’s first-class aesthetic standards.”
Carr said GSP was recently recognized as “North America’s Best Small Airport” by customers in 2020, according to Airports Council International, a global industry association for airports.
âWe asked the developers in their proposals to provide us with unique amenities, such as a rooftop bar and swimming pool,â Carr said.
The hotel can measure up to four floors and includes conference and meeting space, lounge and swimming pool, business center, restaurant with bar and lounge, exercise room, and landscaping to match. background in the current landscaping of the airport.
The plans will be subject to Federal Aviation Administration review and approval.
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At the GSP Airports Commission meeting earlier this month, GSP International President / CEO Dave Edwards said passenger travel was still down in January, a 65% drop from in the same month in 2020.
âCurrently on schedule, GSP flights are down 56.1% and seats are down 49.9%,â said Edwards. “However, with schedule updates coming closer to early April, it is believed these numbers will improve.”
Contact Bob Montgomery at [email protected]