Asheville Regional Airport (AVL), a cornerstone of regional connectivity and economic vitality, embarked on a historic journey today to break ground on AVL Forward, the most significant infrastructure endeavor in the airport's 60-plus year history. In recent years, Asheville Regional Airport has experienced remarkable growth, and the construction of a new airport terminal is a natural next step for this vital hub connecting the western North Carolina region to the world.
The groundbreaking ceremony included airport stakeholders, community leaders, and local, regional, and national elected officials, who witnessed the end of an era and the beginning of the future when a corner of the 62-year old airport terminal was torn down. This historic occasion celebrated the visionary efforts and collaboration that have paved the way for the transformative AVL Forward project, highlighting the vision of past and current leaders. The expansive project is a result of a $400 million investment, supported by a combination of funding sources including federal and state grants, airport revenue bonds, and airport operating revenue.
“Our new airport terminal represents more than just a building; it signifies the promise of economic growth and prosperity for our community,” said Lew Bleiweis, President and CEO of the Greater Asheville Regional Airport Authority (GARAA). “We are creating an environment that not only facilitates air travel but also elevates the overall airport experience, designed to leave lasting positive impressions on all who pass through our doors.”
Upon completion, the AVL Forward project will yield a remarkable airport terminal that stands 150% larger than the current airport. The airport will grow from seven gates to twelve, with ample room for further expansion. The new design concept, inspired by the natural beauty of the western North Carolina mountains, will feature a spacious and bright grand lobby, state-of-the-art ticketing and baggage claim areas, an inviting concessions plaza, and thoughtfully designed gate areas to enhance passenger comfort and experience.
Award-winning architectural firm Gresham Smith led an innovative design process resulting in AVL Forward's aesthetic vision, harmonizing modern functionality with the region's distinctive charm. Gresham Smith brings a wealth of expertise and creativity to the project, promising a terminal that will not only serve the practical needs of travelers but also exude the welcoming and authentic essence of the region.
Construction of the new terminal will be managed by Hensel Phelps, an industry leader known for its commitment to excellence and innovation. Further enriching the project's management will be the expertise of Parsons, a firm with a specialty in construction management services. Hired as an extension of the airport’s planning staff, their involvement helps ensure that AVL Forward will meet the highest standards of quality and efficiency throughout every phase.
To keep the community engaged and informed, Asheville Regional Airport has launched a dedicated section of its website: flyavl.com/avlforward. Here, visitors can access up-to-date information, images, a timeline of project milestones, an educational video detailing the project's scope, and various ways to actively engage with the airport throughout the duration of this transformative initiative.
The AVL Forward project marks a pivotal leap forward for Asheville Regional Airport, solidifying its role as a gateway to and from western North Carolina. With construction now underway, the airport is set to achieve new heights of convenience, comfort, and connectivity for the millions of passengers who will pass through its doors.
"It's an exciting day," said Bleiweis, "and the beginning of a journey that I hope our region is willing to take with us. I want to thank our travelers and the community for their patience during this extraordinarily complex construction project. The next few years will be transitional, and the end result will be worth it. We will all be proud of our new airport."
Phase One: The existing north concourse will be demolished in August 2023, followed by an approximate two-year period of construction of a new north concourse, which will house seven gates and six boarding bridges, spacious gate hold rooms, restrooms and concessions areas. Additionally, the northern expansion of the ticket lobby, a temporary TSA checkpoint and south baggage claim expansion will be constructed. *Milestone moment: When construction is complete, the new north concourse will open for passenger and airline use.
Phase Two: The existing south concourse will be demolished, followed by an approximate 1.5 year period of construction of a new south concourse, second-level concessions plaza, the southern expansion of the ticket lobby, the northern expansion of baggage claim, construction of the new grand lobby and permanent TSA security check point. *Milestone moment: Upon completion of this phase, the airport will feel brand new, with twelve gates and boarding bridges and expansive space for all points in the passenger journey within the airport terminal.
Phase Three: Due to the significant phasing approach necessary, there will still be some “back of house” construction, demolition and clean up occurring for approximately another year.
Stay Connected with AVL Forward
Visit the dedicated AVL Forward website for project updates, images, milestones, and more: flyavl.com/avlforward
About Asheville Regional Airport
Serving more than 1.8 million passengers in 2022, Asheville Regional Airport is continuing its growth trajectory. Now the third largest airport in North Carolina, the airport is served by six airlines that provide nonstop service to 26 unique airport destinations. For more information, visit flyavl.com.
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VISIT GRESHAM SMITH FOR DESIGN RENDERINGS