Armstrong Airport opens competition for hotel at new terminal

Posted on: June 27 2016

By Katherine Sayre, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

The New Orleans Aviation Board has opened a competition for developers to build a three-star hotel next to the new terminal under construction at Louis Armstrong International Airport.

A full-service, nationally branded hotel connected to Armstrong's new terminal must offer at least 140 rooms and capture the spirit of the terminal's design by architect Cesar Pelli, according to the request for proposals issued by the Aviation Board and the City of New Orleans.

"The design of the North Terminal embraces the rich natural and cultural history of New Orleans, the mighty Mississippi, the sultry bayous, rich cuisine, live music, the joie de vivre of its citizens," the request for proposals says. "The concept of lightness and openness is a guiding design principal in the exterior design.

The $807 million, 30-gate terminal is slated to open Oct. 1, 2018, and the city is requiring developers have the hotel ready for guests by that date.

Airport officials have estimated construction of a hotel will cost at least $17 million, although developers will have to submit their own construction budgets and financing plans. The Federal Aviation Administration gave clearance for the building to be up to 145 feet tall. The Aviation Board would consider something taller with another FAA approval, the request says.

The developer would pay the airport rent at a minimum of fair market value, estimated to be $103,400 annually, the request says. In addition to the ground rent, the airport expects to share in the revenues from concessions with a minimum of $450,000. The lease is set for 30 years with two, 10-year extension options.  

Proposals will be graded in five categories: payment proposal (30 percent); design and construction schedule (30 percent); development team experience and capabilities (20 percent); commitment to an airport concession disadvantaged business enterprise program (10 percent); and commitment to a state and local disadvantaged business enterprise program (10 percent).  

The optimal timeline for the selection process is as follows:

  • Proposals due Sept. 16
  • Selection committee meets Oct. 5
  • Interviews/final selection Oct. 12
  • New Orleans Aviation Board votes on recommendation Oct. 20
  • Proposal reviewed by City Council's transportation committee Nov. 1
  • Proposal introduced to full City Council Nov. 3
  • City Council votes to approve Dec. 1
  • Lease signed Dec. 16

Armstrong Airport currently rents out 22 gates to airlines. The new terminal will have 30 gates with an option to expand to 42. The airport served 10.67 million passengers last year, an all-time record. 

As for the existing terminal, concourses A, B (Southwest) and C (American, Alaska, JetBlue and others) will be demolished. The airport intends to repurpose concourse D (Delta, United) for charter services and administrative offices.