The center core in the landside terminal of Pittsburgh International Airport will look very different once renovations to update its retail space are finished at the end of this year.
AIRMALL USA, the operator of Pittsburgh International’s shops and restaurants is beginning a $10 million project to increase business in the airport’s stores. Because of federal security rules only ticketed passengers can access the mall's stores.
Jay Kruisselbrink, vice president of development for AIRMALL, said the changes will reflect the airport’s transformation over 20 years.
He said when Pittsburgh International opened in 1992 it served as a hub, an airport with a large presence of flights to facilitate connecting traffic, but over the years it turned into an O&D (origin and destination) airport, where flights originate and terminate rather than connect.
Kruisselbrink said the retail configuration in place reflects its original hub status.
“80 percent of that traffic was on the A and B concourses. So we had what we called ‘Boardwalk Parkplace’ between the A and B concourses,” said Kruisselbrink. “Now that we’re an O&D airport about 95 to 98 percent of the passengers come up the escalator and then go to their gate.”
Kruisselbrink said they are adding nine new retail spaces in three phases.
Phase one will replace the back area of the core with shops by mid to late-summer. Phase two will renovate the north side of the core, to the left of the elevator where the flight information screens currently stand. And phase three will add stores to the south side, to the right of the elevator.
Kruisselbrink said the newsstands and food court will not be affected by the change.
He said customers shouldn’t be impeded by construction.
“We won’t interfere with passengers at all. We’ll have it signed to help the passengers find what the need to find,” said Kruisselbrink. “But really you should not notice mush of a difference at all.”
The $10 million for the update is being split between AIRMALL and the retail vendors. AIRMALL is contributing $5 million for construction, while the vendors will pay about $5 million to rebuild stores.
Kruisselbrink said there is always talk between the airport and the federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA) about reopening the mall to non-ticketed customers, but they haven’t been able to reach an agreement yet.