Morrisville, N.C. — The renovation of the old "blue box" familiar to Triangle air travelers will be complete early next year, and members of the media got a sneak peek Thursday at progress inside Raleigh-Durham International Airport's Terminal 1.
"The goal of the modernization of Terminal 1 is to make sure it complements Terminal 2," airport spokeswoman Mindy Hamlin said.
Work began in July 2012 with future growth in mind. The terminal will allow airlines to add gates, and therefore flights, in years to come. It will also offer expanded ticketing, security checkpoints and baggage claim areas and add shops, restaurants and other amenities for travelers.
One of those tweaks is the availability of power outlets in the gate areas, so that travelers can connect and charge electronic devices.
Because it did not need to be built from the ground up, the project, financed by revenue raised at the airport from parking, restaurants and airline leases, will cost about 90 percent less than the $570 million spent to build Terminal 2.
"Terminal 1 is $68 million. It is a renovation project, a modernization project, but you will see a lot of the same things," Hamlin said.
Another highlight previously announced is the first-ever ACC American Cafe, a restaurant with a sports theme. "It will show local games and vintage games," Hamlin said. "People who are big ACC fans are going to love it."
Officials said they hope the new terminal makes the right first impression with visitors and sell the Triangle as a destination.
"It's the first thing they get to see when they come into the area," said Laurie Okun, marketing director for the Raleigh Convention Center.
She points to the opening of Terminal 2 just before the Triangle hosted the NHL All Star game in 2011. Visitors descended from around the world – and most of them landed in Terminal 2.
Laura French arrived at Terminal 2 on Thursday, heading to a convention in Raleigh. It was her first visit to the area.
"I travel to a lot of airports and believe me, I've been through some real pits," she said. "This one was very nice and it told me right then and there that this was going to be a great city."