COS wraps up Phase 1 in post-blaze recovery

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Phase 1 of Colorado Springs Airport’s $5 million post-fire rebuild and modernization is complete, almost five months after the massive rooftop blaze that halted flights for a day. Administrative and United Airlines staff are set to return to renovated third-floor offices in about a week.

Two more construction phases remain, both in public areas of the airport. Phase 2, which covers the second floor, is expected to be complete by November 15, in time for Thanksgiving travel. Phase 3, including the first floor and baggage claim, is slated for completion in Spring 2019.

The fire, started in the early hours of April 16 by a construction crew working with propane torches, was ruled accidental in July.

With the completion of Phase 1, Director of Aviation Greg Phillips said the airport’s accounting, property and management staff can look forward to “getting back to something approaching normal.”

What follows will be “a half-year process to remediate and modernize the public side of the airport,” he said.

The COS Terminal Modernization Program was already planned, and had been scheduled to start in 2019. But after the fire those plans were brought forward, to be more cost-effective and to coincide with the recovery work.

The goal is an “open, bright, timeless and mountain modern” look and feel, according to updated renderings released this week. Plans promise a “memorable and accessible traveler experience” and “enhanced amenities for comfort, technology and flexibility.”

A new color scheme will reflect regional influences, and with new raised ceilings and LED lighting the result will be “more open, more inviting, a better look and feel for the terminal,” Phillips said.

Some time in early 2019, travelers can once again expect to be welcomed by two of the Springs’ favorite things: beer and coffee. The second-floor airport locations for Novo Coffee and Bristol Taproom need to be completely rebuilt as part of Phase 2, and will get some upgrades.

“The Colorado Springs Airport received $4 million in two separate advances from our insurance company [FM Global] and [Colorado Springs] City Council approved us to spend up to $5 million [including the insurance advances],” Aidan Ryan, marketing and communications manager for COS, said in an email. “Thus far, we have incurred $2.8 million in recovery expenses and have spent approximately $1.3 million from the insurance advances. No money to date has been expended from actual airport funds.

“We expect insurance to pay … all the Airport’s fire recovery and rebuild expenses, minus those costs solely designated to improvements and previously approved for the 2019 Terminal Modernization Program that is being expedited due to the fire.”

The airport’s Novo and Bristol locations are run independently by concessionaire SSP America, Ryan said.

“Insurance will cover about 50% of their rebuild expenses and SSP … will be responsible for all of the cost of the finishes,” she said.

In an emailed statement, Lana Cramer, vice president of corporate marketing at SSP America, said, “The development will offer passengers a refreshed space with all new equipment, furniture, finishes and materials.”

Cramer said the Novo and Bristol project is currently in the design phase, and employees from those locations are working at other units managed by SSP America.

SSP America did not provide a figure on the loss or cost of the closures.

Bryan Construction was awarded the contract for the fire rebuild and the modernization plan on all three floors of the airport. Weathercraft Roofing was the contractor in charge of roofing repairs at the time of the fire.

Phillips recalled the early stages of finding and fixing the fire damage were “sort of like peeling an onion.

“Peel this back where you know you need to fix it, and then it’s like, ‘Oh, look at that — we need to fix that too,’” he said. “Peel back, peel back. So where we ended up is that on the first floor and the second floor all of the ceiling, all of the flooring and much of the ductwork needed to be replaced. Everything needed to be hand cleaned — I mean literally guys were up there cleaning pipes with a rag and [cleaning solution].

“Then on the third floor, the whole west half was essentially decimated, and the United [Airlines] offices on the second floor [were] even worse — everything down to the superstructure, just the metal beams, taking the drywall off both sides entirely.”

HB&A Architecture and Planning, DWL Architects + Planners Inc., Bridgers & Paxton, and Senger Design Group are also working on the modernization plan.

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