XNA approves design work for checkpoint, taxiway projects; moves on succession planning

by Jeff Della Rosa ([email protected]) 1,228 views 

The $35 million parking deck is under construction south of the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport terminal. Nabholz is building the four-story parking deck, and it is expected to be completed in August 2018.

Design work has been approved to expand the checkpoint up to 90 feet at the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport. On Wednesday (Oct. 18), Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport Authority Board of Directors approved Wittenberg Delony & Davidson Architects to complete the work, which is expected to cost $321,225.

Total project cost for the checkpoint is $3 million, and the airport hopes to receive federal funding to pay for up to 90% of it. If approved, the airport would be responsible for about $245,000 of the project, airport director Kelly Johnson said.

The checkpoint expansion was a project the airport had not planned to complete until 2024, but board members asked to move up the project in August. Nearly 10 years ago, Wittenberg Delony & Davidson Architects designed a project to expand the checkpoint by 30 feet. The airport’s planning consultant Mead & Hunt had recommended the airport expand the checkpoint by another 30 feet.

“We think it makes more sense to go out 60 to 90 feet,” Johnson said.

The airport will work with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) on the best way to reconfigure the checkpoint.

In a separate project, Garver Engineers will design the reconstruction of Taxiway B, which runs parallel to the runway. Garver previously designed the project in 2013, but the bid for the project came in too high and was put on hold. Garver will update the design to align with federal regulations that have changed since the previous design. Total project cost for the taxiway reconstruction is $10.88 million, and the airport looks to receive state and federal funding to pay for the project. If approved, XNA would be responsible for about $895,000 of the project. The project is scheduled to start in 2018, Johnson said.

Board members also received an update on the construction of the $35 million parking deck, which will boost the total number of parking spaces at the airport by 34% to 4,631. On Wednesday, crews started pouring concrete for the roof of the four-story parking deck. Concrete work on the third floor has been completed, and the work for the fourth floor is about 75% completed.

“Things are right on track where we want them to be,” said project executive Jeff Gattis of Nabholz.

The company began construction on the nearly 500,000-square-foot parking deck in mid-January. Work is expected to be completed in August 2018. Parking is the biggest revenue source for XNA, generating $4.96 million in 2016. Earlier this year, the airport started offering valet parking, and it continues to be popular.

“It’s not uncommon for Republic Parking to have 60 to 80 valet cars a night,” Johnson said.

The process to start the search for a CEO and other airport executive positions took another step forward when board members narrowed down the number of executive consultants to two: ADK Consulting & Executive Search and Russell Reynolds Associates.

In 2016, the board established an administrative hierarchy that would include, along with the CEO, a chief financial and administration officer, chief operating officer and chief business and development officer. The consultant is expected to determine whether this hierarchy would be appropriate for the airport, and if so, would be responsible to fill those positions.

CEO Scott Van Laningham said he was on the committee for the Northwest Arkansas Council in its search for a new CEO, and Russell Reynolds was the consultant for that search. It’s also worked with the Walton Family Foundation with recruiting. ADK works exclusively with airports.

The two consultants are expected to make presentations at a future board meeting.