With construction of the $1 billion North Terminal entering its final stages, officials with the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport are considering the future of the old airport building, which will become vacant when the new terminal opens on May 15.
Airport officials have been working with consultants to determine potential uses for the old terminal and have come up with a baseline roadmap that outlines some of the short- and long-term options for redeveloping the current facility.
“It’s a multi-step process. The plan really looks 40 years into our future. But the more immediate term would be in the next one or two years, after we have moved out of this facility,” says airport spokeswoman Erin Burns.
The short-term solution will most likely include the demolition of Concourses A, B and C, Burns says. During a November meeting of the New Orleans Aviation Board, a consultant suggested it would be difficult and expensive to redevelop much of the old facility, which was built in 1959. The Parabola Lobby—an iconic mid-century glass arch at the entrance to Concourse C—could be preserved, along with Concourse D.
Some key airport operations including the aviation communication and the emergency operations centers will remain in the building for now. A neighboring parking garage and rental car facility will also stay for the time being.
After the North Terminal is complete, the entire transition to the new, 1 million sq ft building will take place in a single day to ensure that no flights will be interrupted or delayed. If everything goes according to plan, that means flights will arrive at and depart from the old terminal one day, and then switch to the new terminal the very next day.
Burns says the demolition process wouldn’t begin until everything is completely moved out of the old facility. And even then, it could still take months or years.
“Obviously, there are still steps that need to be taken in terms of recruiting developers, doing proposals to try to get the types of development we would want over here,” Burns says.
As for long-term plans after the old concourses are demolished, those areas could be redeveloped for aeronautical uses or industrial tenants. Additional hangar space or aircraft maintenance facilities are among the options, since the area offers access to the ramp space on the airfield. “That would be a prime location to recruit a type of operation like that,” Burns says.
Since the airport is in an industrial area, the space also presents opportunities to develop more warehousing.
“It all kind of depends on the market and what uses are identified for the area,” Burns says. “But in the long term, we could see the rest of the facility being demolished, if there is no specific use identified for it.”