A successful partnership that helped bring international travel back to William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) was honored April 14, 2016, when the international concourse project was named the winner in the Houston Business Journal's annual Landmark Awards for the Public/Private Partnership category.
More than 400 business people attended the 2016 Landmark Awards event at the Omni Hotel to find out which real estate projects were named winners in 17 categories. The annual Landmark Awards recognize real estate projects that make a significant impression on the Houston landscape and improve the look, feel and image of the city. Award-winning projects are marked by excellence in land planning, design, construction, economics, marketing and management.
Nominations were open to all real estate activity occurring in the greater Houston area from Jan. 1, 2015, through Dec. 31, 2015. Projects must have been substantially completed, financially viable and open to the public. Entries were judged on impact to Houston, such as job creation, innovation, best use of land, site plan, development of surrounding neighborhoods, visual plan, amenities and being environmentally friendly.
“The Houston Airport System would like to thank the members of the Houston Business Journal selection committee for recognizing the efforts and partnership with Southwest Airlines, as well as the importance of the ambitious project at Hobby Airport,” said Jesus Saenz, the General Manager for William P. Hobby Airport who also directed the airport system’s activation team on the project. “Houston has a well-earned reputation as a great place to do business, but it also features world-class amenities and an amazing quality of life. This partnership with Southwest will help provide limitless opportunities for businesses, residents and tourists from the Americas to experience all of that.”
The 280,000-square-foot complex, which opened in mid-October 2015, is testimony to the power of effective partnerships. From its opening to the end of 2015, Hobby Airport serviced more than 145,000 international passengers traveling to destinations throughout Mexico, Latin America and the Caribbean, and is expected to eventually see more than 1 million additional international travelers on a yearly basis. That will continue to grow Hobby’s presence in the region, and add to the record 12 million passengers it served in 2015.
The new facility features a five-gate concourse, Federal Inspection Station, Southwest Airlines ticketing hall and expanded security checkpoint, and is the result of a far-reaching partnership struck between the City of Houston and Southwest Airlines in 2012. The low-cost carrier agreed to cover expenses associated with the concourse while the Houston Airport System spearheaded the drive to construct a number of enabling projects, including a new 3,000 space parking garage and roadway.
As part of Southwest Airlines’ $156 million commitment, the new facility boasts a new, modern concourse, gate area and FIS facility. The concourse utilizes five gates — “swing gates” that can accommodate both international and domestic travelers — and is complimented by an expansive ticketing area equipped with self-tagging kiosks to speed up the check-in process, abundant seating in the gate areas that feature seats with electric outlets for charging phones and personal devices, and modern customs facilities that include 14 Automated Passport Control and six Global Entry kiosks to streamline U.S. Customs and Border Protection screening and baggage processing for arriving international passengers.
For its part, the Houston Airport System invested in an ambitious improvement program, including a new 1 million square foot parking garage. The $55 million facility will provide 3,000 additional spaces, bringing the total at Hobby Airport to more than 7,200 when completed and addressing the growing demand for parking for years to come. The garage will feature new signage with integrated car counts that enable drivers to know how many spaces are available in a given direction, and is directly connected to the new ticket lobby by a climate-controlled pedestrian bridge that offers safe access and shelter from the elements.
A bi-level roadway system — improvements that feature a widened upper ramp, additional space to drop off passengers, and clearly defined lanes on the lower level for picking up of arriving passengers — a newly-constructed satellite utilities plant that supports the needs of the new concourse and places Hobby Airport in an excellent position to accommodate future growth, and visual enhancements such as modern signs as well as landscaping, fencing and lighting along Airport Boulevard, provide additional finishing touches and enhanced levels of customer service.
To learn more about the project, click on this link.