Atlanta airport hotel project gets FAA approval

A proposed InterContinental hotel at Hartsfield-Jackson International has gained clearance from the Federal Aviation Administration, which concluded it will not interfere with radar or airspace safety at the world’s busiest airport.

FAA approval was a key hurdle to overcome for the hotel project, which has been in the works for the past three years.

Hartsfield-Jackson spokesman Reese McCranie said the FAA determination issued Thursday is “terrific news,” adding: “There’s no doubt in my mind that the project will move forward and the hotel will be built.”

The 11-story hotel will be steps away from the terminal. Airport officials hope it will be a hallmark development introducing a key amenity for travelers.

Construction is expected to begin in early 2018, according to Cortez Carter, assistant general manager of ATL Business Ventures at Hartsfield-Jackson. It is expected to take until around 2020 to complete.

This year, the airport is working on relocating parking from the West economy lot, where the hotel will be built, and on relocating utilities.

During hotel construction, shuttle pick-up areas and limos will also be relocated. McCranie said “the passenger will be kept in mind” during the relocations.

The hotel project is a public-private partnership between the airport and development team Majestic Carter, a partnership of Atlanta-based developer Carter, Majestic Realty Co. and GPM Investments LLC. The project architect is John Portman & Associates, an Atlanta architect well-known for his design of atrium-style hotels. Majestic Carter also plan to eventually build two "select service" hotels on another site on airport grounds near the domestic terminal.

The unusual design of the InterContinental is described in a proposal as “stacked building blocks.” It was designed in part to avoid interference with radar.

Still, the FAA review took more than a year, and during the process the airport shifted the hotel site 48 feet west and 3 feet north. A large plaza is now planned for the area just outside the west exit of the domestic terminal — connecting the airport, MARTA station, SkyTrain and the hotel.

The exterior of the hotel also is designed for “low reflectivity.” Glare can cause temporary loss of vision to pilots arriving or departing at airports — which often comes up as an issue in airport solar array projects. An approach control antenna and a weather sensor will be relocated because of the hotel.

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