More than 120 new restaurants and stores are slated to open in the next year at George Bush Intercontinental Airport.
The new additions are part of $4 billion the airport received that is earmarked for improvement projects over the next decade, said Jarrett Simmons, assistant director of aviation, capital projects and planning for the Houston Airport System.
The new restaurants include Greater Houston area favorites, such as The Breakfast Klub, Hubcap Grill and Mexican restaurant Hugo’s, Simmons said. Italian restaurant Tony’s opened in early August. The new eatery options will also include franchises Pink’s Pizza and Chick-fil-A. A boarding pass will be required to eat at the restaurants.
“This process started about six to eight months ago and will go on for the next 12 months because it takes a lot to build out the restaurants and stores,” Simmons said. “Some of them are famous Houston restaurants.”
Improvements also include makeovers to four airport terminals. Construction on the $244 million renovation of domestic Terminal C is projected to be complete in March, he said. The project includes a 265,000-square-foot facility, which is 100,000 square feet larger than the previous Terminal C, according to United Airlines. The remodel is a joint project between the Houston Airport System, the city of Houston and United.
Construction on the $1.5 billion Mickey Leland International Terminal, which will replace Terminal D, is expected to begin before the end of 2017, Simmons said. An architect will be hired to design the project in the next 45 days, he said. The planned terminal will be 780,000 square feet.
Once terminals C and D are completed, the airport will shift its focus to terminals A and B, he said.
“Further out, we have projects over and past the next 10 years,” Simmons said. “We’re in the planning stages of a complete remodel of Terminal A, and also we’re working with United Airlines on two more concourses for Terminal B, which will replace the last boarding gates [at IAH that were constructed in] the 1960s. Over the next 10 years, we have $4 billion dollars in projects in the pipeline.”
The projects are necessary for IAH on the heels of rapid growth, Simmons said. The international airport reported 42 million travelers in 2015—an increase of 2 million over 2014.
Meanwhile, the number of travelers has grown by 1 percent in 2016, despite a decline in business travelers due to the oil and gas industry downturn, Simmons said.