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Strategies for Reuse of Underutilized or Vacant Airport Facilities (2011)

Chapter: CHAPTER TEN Pittsburgh International Airport Reuse of The 1952 Pittsburgh Terminal Building Airside Business Park

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Suggested Citation:"CHAPTER TEN Pittsburgh International Airport Reuse of The 1952 Pittsburgh Terminal Building Airside Business Park." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2011. Strategies for Reuse of Underutilized or Vacant Airport Facilities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/14592.
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Suggested Citation:"CHAPTER TEN Pittsburgh International Airport Reuse of The 1952 Pittsburgh Terminal Building Airside Business Park." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2011. Strategies for Reuse of Underutilized or Vacant Airport Facilities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/14592.
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Page 38
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Suggested Citation:"CHAPTER TEN Pittsburgh International Airport Reuse of The 1952 Pittsburgh Terminal Building Airside Business Park." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2011. Strategies for Reuse of Underutilized or Vacant Airport Facilities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/14592.
×
Page 39
Page 40
Suggested Citation:"CHAPTER TEN Pittsburgh International Airport Reuse of The 1952 Pittsburgh Terminal Building Airside Business Park." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2011. Strategies for Reuse of Underutilized or Vacant Airport Facilities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/14592.
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Page 40

Below is the uncorrected machine-read text of this chapter, intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text of each book. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

35 AIRPORT SPONSOR AND INTERVIEW PARTICIPANTS Airport Name Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) City, State Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Airport Sponsor Allegheny County Airport Author- ity (ACAA) Persons Interviewed Wm. Randell Forister, Senior Direc- tor of Development Richard C. Belotti, Director of Plan- ning and Environmental Affairs SITUATION In 1988, construction began for the new Pittsburgh Midfield Terminal Complex (Figure 28). This project and reuse of the former terminal predates the Allegheny County Air- port Authority, which was formed in November 1999. At the time, the Department of Aviation was part of the Allegheny County government and as such, airport planning was inte- grated with the Department of Development. Not surprisingly, the new terminal garnered a lot of atten- tion. No reuse plan for the former terminal was considered until it was vacated in 1992. An Air Cargo Special Study, completed in 1991 and revised in 1993, identified the former terminal building as the site that maximized the full poten- tial of an already existing ramp and could support a large build out of air cargo activity. The question remained, how- ever, about what to do with the terminal facility, particularly the large rotunda that had architectural merit and historic significance (see Figure 29). REUSE OPTIONS One of the first plans advanced for the former terminal build- ing was development of a satellite facility for the Smithson- CHAPTER TEN PITTSBURGH INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT—REUSE OF THE 1952 PITTSBURGH TERMINAL BUILDING–AIRSIDE BUSINESS PARK FIGURE 28 Airside Business Park, Pittsburgh International Airport.

36 ian Air and Space Museum. The proposed museum attracted a lot of community interest; however, by the spring 1993, the Smithsonian decided to expand within the Washington, D.C., area. The proposal continued to have local support, and sponsorship was taken up by the Pittsburgh Airport Museum, a not-for-profit group. However, it was not possible to raise all of the estimated $50 million for renovations and exhibits, so the museum initiative failed. Partly as a consequence of the publicity around the museum proposal, the County Board of Commissioners and the Departments of Aviation and Economic Development received many proposals for reuse of the former terminal building from private developers, companies, agencies, and individuals (see Figure 30). In addition, the County Board of Commissioners awarded a contract to the National Devel- opment Corporation to identify and attract potential devel- opers. National Development Corporation was not able to find prospects. One problem with keeping the former termi- nal building in place was the estimated cost of $15 million needed to remove asbestos and fuel contamination to ready it for development. This cost of cleanup made most proposed reuses financially infeasible. The county decided that its top priority was to develop the property for aeronautical uses compatible with the airport. Under consideration were— • An FBO, • A laser-based paint coating removal plant for aircraft paint, • A new airline, • Air Force/Air National Guard facility, • Regional support command army training facility, and • Air cargo facility. REUSE OPTIONS LIMITED BY BUILDING ABANDONMENT Approximately 1 year after the relocation to the Midfield Terminal Complex, Allegheny County received requests from the airlines to terminate utility service to the former terminal building, which was estimated at nearly $1 million per year. The county subsequently stopped general mainte- nance and upkeep and terminated all utilities except limited electricity for emergencies. The building was secured by an 8-ft perimeter fence. This action was consistent with a mem- orandum of agreement between Allegheny County and US Airways that stated that if a viable reuse of the former termi- nal building was not identified by October 1994, the build- ing would be demolished in its entirety and the demolition would be funded by the airlines. This agreement forced an early reuse decision and resulted in few resources dedicated to keeping the former terminal building alive. However, for a variety of reasons, the building remained standing and vacant for 7 more years. It became weathered and interior elements of the rotunda were damaged by van- dalism. The lack of heating and ventilation resulted in mold and mildew. A building condition evaluation report esti- mated that the cost for demolition was $2.5 million. A benefit–cost analysis was completed on four alterna- tives: no action; partial reuse of the former terminal build- ing and cargo development; retention of the former terminal building, a business aviation center, and cargo development; and full demolition of the former terminal building and full development of the Airside Business Park. The last alterna- tive was selected. FIGURE 29 Former Pittsburgh passenger terminal complex built in 1952.

37 In addition to these five buildings, Atlantic Aviation oper- ates an FBO on 11 acres and Aviation Facilities Company owns and leases one cargo building in the Airside Business Park (Figure 31). There is also one new corporate hangar. FIGURE 31 Atlantic Aviation FBO, Pittsburgh International Airport. LESSONS LEARNED Reuse of Pittsburgh’s former passenger terminal demon- strates many of the challenges inherent in the renovation and cleanup required to reuse a specialized airport facility. First ideas do not always prevail. Reuse of the former terminal building stimulated many good proposals for reuse. However, the first ideas did not prevail. In this instance, attention to the new Midfield Terminal Complex eclipsed serious consideration of reuse options for the former termi- nal building until it was vacant and no longer maintained. That US Airways had agreed to pay for demolition raised the possibility for redevelopment of the site for a new use DEVELOPMENT OF THE AIRSIDE BUSINESS PARK In 1995–1996, the Airside Business Park was planned. The goal was to provide an effective reuse of the former terminal building area to increase operations at the airport, to stimu- late commerce within the region, and to provide employ- ment and business opportunities for Allegheny County. The Airside Business Park was designed to incorporate the fol- lowing types of development: • Flex-offices/warehouses, • Office and commercial buildings, • Business aviation center, and • Air cargo ramp. In 1997, the Allegheny County Redevelopment Authority and the Departments of Economic Development and Avia- tion completed a design standards and controls handbook for the business park that described the development strat- egy, design standards, review procedures, and construction requirements. In 1998, a salvage company came in to demol- ish the structure. However, the FAA halted the demolition because the presence of asbestos, lead paint, and hydrocar- bon contaminants required an environmental assessment. The project was halted for a year to complete the environ- mental assessment. The former terminal building was finally torn down in 1999 and 2000 (8 years after it was vacated). The Elmhurst Group, a Pittsburgh development company, signed a master lease to construct five buildings. The first two were built on speculation in 2003. Michael Baker Cor- poration leased one of these buildings for its headquarters. A third single-story building was also completed that year. For the fourth building, Elmhurst received a 1-year exten- sion to construct because of a weak real estate market, but it was constructed in 2005 and is now occupied. In late 2008, Elmhurst built a fifth multistory building. FIGURE 30 Proposed Pittsburgh Air and Space Museum.

38 without the additional costs of environmental cleanup and mitigation of the building itself. Ultimately, the Airside Business Park was carefully developed to achieve a high- quality, cohesive development. It is important to plan for reuse and understand both the environmental and regulatory requirements for rede- velopment of an airport property. In many respects, reuse of airport facilities is a lot like urban renewal: messy and complicated. The former terminal building had both archi- tectural and historic importance, but it also had environ- mental hazards such as asbestos and lead paint. There were also instances of fuel contamination outside the building. Stormwater sewers, fuel lines, and power lines were buried under the concrete, which complicated demolition and con- struction activity. As it turned out, salvage operations began prior to an environmental assessment of the property. As a consequence, demolition of the facility was halted for a year to complete an environmental assessment that should have been done previously. The economics of reuse are impacted by cleanup costs. The costs associated with cleanup of the former terminal site made the economics of reusing the property infeasible. In this instance, US Airways was already on tap to pay for demolition of the former terminal building, but environ- mental cleanup of the property, estimated at $15 million, would have been a cost borne by the group redeveloping the property. In the end, demolition was the least costly option and contributed to the decision to redevelop rather than reuse. Stakeholder agreement is critical. The former terminal building was located in Moon Township. When terminal operations relocated, the airport’s “front door” was in Find- lay Township. Moon Township lost jobs and tax dollars with the vacancy. Community buy-in on the reuse possibilities was critical to advancing the Airside Business Park and offset the adverse impacts of relocating the terminal in another county. Keeping a building alive extends the options for reuse, but at a cost. To keep reuse of a building as an option, a mini- mum level of HVAC is required. Once the former terminal building was closed and not maintained at all, reuse became a more complicated and expensive option. It is also true that to reduce overall airport operating costs, airlines can favor abandonment of older structures to remove the cost of main- tenance as a shared airport expense.

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TRB’s Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) Synthesis 25: Strategies for Reuse of Underutilized or Vacant Airport Facilities presents an overview of the issues surrounding the reuse of aeronautical facilities and terminals.

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