New hotels planned for Atlanta airport

Hartsfield-Jackson International unveiled expanded plans for hotel development next to the domestic terminal, additions that will change the face of the world’s busiest airport and add options for travelers.

An InterContinental hotel and conference center with a futuristic design will be built just steps away from the domestic terminal, as part of a broader “airport city” development by Majestic Carter Atlanta Mixed Use LLC.

“The world’s busiest and most efficient airport will become a destination unto itself,” said Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. “This will be an iconic hotel,” he said.

The airport and Majestic Carter on Tuesday also revealed plans for two more hotels on another site near the domestic terminal.

Combined, the InterContinental and the other two “select service” hotels represent a $350 million development. Select service hotels typically have fewer restaurants, less catering and event space than full-service hotels like InterContinental.

The InterContinental will be located just outside the west exit doors where taxis and shuttles pick up passengers. The site will also have 60,000 square feet of Class A office space within walking distance of the terminal.

Construction is expected to begin by early 2018 and be completed in 2020, according to the city.

“Once this grand facility is built, travelers will more easily transition from their flights,” said Hartsfield-Jackson interim general manager Roosevelt Council.

The select service hotels could be complete in 2019. Also in the works are plans for a travel plaza with a gas station.

The airport sees the development of hotels, a conference center and travel plaza as a way to generate more revenue.

Having more hotels closer to the airport will also give more options for travelers stranded at the airport during snowstorms or other flight disruptions.

And companies planning quick meetings drawing on employees or executives from around the country or the world could use the upscale InterContinental hotel and conference center to gather in Atlanta.

To be sure, there are a number of other hotels in the airport area, including a Marriott and SpringHill Suites at the Gateway development near Hartsfield-Jackson, reachable via the airport’s free SkyTrain.

But the InterContinental Hotel will be even closer to the terminal, reachable by walking through a plaza. Taxi pickups, limos and shared-ride shuttles pick-up areas will be shifted to make way for the plaza.

Majestic Carter, a partnership of Majestic Realty Co., real estate firm Carter and GPM Investments LLC, is developing the hotel, office complex and travel plaza on 26.5 acres next to the airport terminal as a public-private partnership on a 50-year lease with the airport.

The project architect for the planned 11-story, 440-room hotel is John Portman & Associates. Portman, InterContinental and Carter all have roots in Atlanta.

The airport since 2014 has worked to develop a hotel on its grounds. Other airports have hotels at their terminals, including at Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Chicago, Boston, Orlando, Detroit, and Tampa.

Carter president Scott Taylor said with the InterContinental at Hartsfield-Jackson, “the luxury offering will truly be unique.” Other airport hotels are often properties such as Hilton, Westin or Marriott.

It has taken Atlanta longer than expected to bring the idea of a hotel to fruition. Early goals were to strike a deal by 2015 for the development. Lease negotiations stretched into 2016, and in September the Atlanta City Council approved the deal with Majestic Carter.

“I wanted this [hotel] really badly,” said Reed, though it will not open during his term as mayor. “I’m fine with it opening after I leave. We were never going to rush this process.”

More due diligence is expected, including a review by the Federal Aviation Administration. The project has been under review for potential interference with radar and air traffic procedures.