$10M concourse upgrades, West Michigan beers, new security checkpoints planned for Ford Airport

Changes are in the air for the Gerald R. Ford International Airport, including plans for a $10 million expansion to accommodate new airline services, creating a single security checkpoint, and new retail and concessions that promote products and brands unique to West Michigan.

One of those products is Kalamazoo-based Bell's Brewery. A new Great Lakes Tap Room will replace the current Home Turf pub at the airport, offering Bell's craft brews, says airport Executive Director Brian Ryks. Ryks says concessions operator HMSHost has contracted with Bell's and is working to engage other local microbreweries to get their products into other areas of the terminal.

"We wanted to bring more local and regional aspects into our environment, so when people land or fly out they recognize Grand Rapids and the region and what it has to offer," Ryks says. "Once we get the new checkpoint built in the next three or four years, then we'll put out other RFPs (Requests for Proposals) to bid on opportunities to create branding for new concessions opportunities in the concourses."

The new concessions are part of the concourse expansion plans, which include adding two more gates to Concourse B -- one to serve Southwest Airlines, which begins service in August, and another gate that will accommodate future growth. Concourse A will see some upgrades, and the separate security checkpoints for each concourse will eventually be consolidated into one large checkpoint area where the current retail travel store is now. Construction on the security checkpoint begins in late 2014 or early 2015.

A new partnership between HMSHost and Grand Rapids Magazine brands the retail store as the Grand Rapids Magazine Travel Retail Store and includes products from Schuler's Books and Music. Renovation of the current store begins this summer. The store will relocate when the security checkpoint consolidation begins.

Source: Brian Ryks, Gerald R. Ford International Airport
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
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