Here are five of the key construction-related and business development milestones for Denver International Airport in 2015, listed in no particular order:
The Westin DIA Hotel opened on Nov. 19. The opening of the 519-room airport hotel completed a decades-old vision for the city. Also, travelers and hotel guests will be connected to downtown Denver via RTD’s new University of Colorado A Line, scheduled to begin service on April 22. It will travel from DIA to Denver Union Station in about 37 minutes.
Groundbreaking for Fire Station 35. After years of planning, DIA broke ground on Fire Station 35 on Aug. 25. The new facility will be the airport’s fifth fire station and the first one accessible to the public. Firefighters stationed at the building, located near Jackson Gap and 75th Avenue, will respond primarily to public safety needs at airport structures, rather than airfield emergencies.
The new facility will feature 18,000 sq ft of modern firefighting capabilities, including four large apparatus bays. When completed next year, the exterior of Fire Station 35 will resemble an airplane hangar.
Voters approved IGA amendment. On Nov. 3, voters in Denver and Adams counties approved ballot measure 1A, which amended the 1988 intergovernmental agreement between the two counties to allow for commercial development on airport property.
This agreement helped DIA launch its real estate program by creating a 1,500-acre pilot program for commercial development on airport land. Construction is underway at 61st and Peña, where Panasonic Enterprise Solutions has committed to building an operations hub. The new facility will be a catalyst for future growth, and a global showcase for the possibilities that development on or near airport property can bring.
Record passenger traffic. In 2014, DIA set a new record for passenger traffic with more than 53.4 million travelers. Although the final numbers for 2015 won’t be in for another month or so, on Nov. 29, DIA set a new single-day record with an estimated 182,000 passengers, followed by continued high volume through the holiday season, ending the year on pace to potentially break 2014’s record numbers. That was despite dramatic service reductions by Frontier Airlines as it transitions to an ultra-low-cost carrier.
DIA turned 20. The airport celebrated its 20th anniversary on Feb. 28. In 1995, DIA opened to the public, and 20 years later, it has established itself as the number one economic driver and job creator in the region. DIA has grown from serving 31 million passengers in 1995 to an all-time record of 53.4 million passengers in 2014 (2015 totals are not available yet). It is ranked No. 8 among the world’s best airports by multiple sources.