Sunport renovations start this month. Here's what to look for.

Sunport renovations start this month. Here’s what to look for.

A rendering of the renovated retail and concessions space at Albuquerque International Sunport. (Courtesy of Albuquerque International Sunport)

Sunport’s new look is on the way.

Major construction on the Albuquerque International Sunport’s $87 million renovation project, “Dream of Flight,” started earlier this month. Jaynes Corp. is the contractor on the project after its bid was selected in early spring last year, beating out Bradbury Stamm. The project is targeted for completion by the end of 2024, and expected to support about 500 construction jobs.

A third of the cost is going toward infrastructure improvements. But the airport is also getting a facelift, with such aesthetic improvements as new carpet, LED lighting and new furniture with charging ports. According to Manny Manriquez, innovation and commercial development manager at the Sunport, some of these elements have not been updated since the ’90s.

“It is a 100% refresh of the program,” Manriquez said, although he noted that the airport will retain its “iconic look and feel.”

Among the planned changes is moving TSA and increasing its footprint by 50%. The airport is beefing up its post-security concessions and retail offerings, building a food hall after security. Once the renovation is complete, there will only be two pre-security retail and concessions spots.

The new program will include approximately 16 spaces for concessions and 10 spaces for retail. By the end of March, Sunport will send out an RFP looking for potential vendors — with local businesses as a priority.

“We really … are seeking to showcase the flavors of New Mexico and have a lot of local businesses have a presence here,” Manriquez said.

The renovations will bring the number of retail and concessions operators back up to pre-pandemic numbers. The four current retail and concessions operators’ contracts will expire and they will have to submit an RFP, like all other businesses.

There will be rolling concessions and retail closures starting in late summer/early fall of 2024.

To drum up interest from small and local businesses, the Sunport is hosting a series of information meetings for potential vendors. On Thursday, it hosted host a webinar about the airport’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program, which encourages small and minority-owned businesses in the state to participate at Sunport.

The airport will also host a matchmaking event in February for small businesses to partner with larger, more experienced concessions’ operators, either as a joint venture or by licensing their products out.

“We really would like to see a high degree of participation by small and local businesses in New Mexico,” Manriquez said.

Manriquez said the airport will also be looking for local artists to create public art installations.

FBT Architects is the architect on the project and CallisonRTKL is the designer.

Jaynes Corp. is the construction manager at risk and will manage the project from start to finish. After a 2017 renovation of the airport cost more and lasted longer than expected, Sunport entered into a different type of contract for this round of improvements, which set a maximum cost of just over $87 million and a defined timeline. Rather than all the risk being placed on Sunport, it is shared between the contractor and the airport.

“They share the risk with us, rather than a ‘design, bid, build model’ where, you know, if it’s late, it’s late, and it’s on the owner of the project,” Manriquez said. “… So it’s a lot more of a collaborative model and it’s one that really spreads the risk out among all the parties.”

Sunport will continue to run flights at full capacity for the duration of the renovations, using city gates if necessary to move certain airlines operations while work on their gates is underway.

“It’s a once-in-a-generation opportunity to refresh this program,” Manriquez said.

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