MYRTLE BEACH — The chairs at the gates are installed, the new restaurants are almost done and the $118 million terminal at Myrtle Beach International Airport is just weeks away from welcoming passengers.
There still is work that remains, but the new terminal, which was simply a construction site that required the use of a hard hat last fall, is now a functioning entity where televisions at the gates are tuned to CNN and airport announcements can now be heard over the PA system.
Kirk Lovell, airport spokesman, said the airport is still on schedule to get its certificate of occupancy from Horry County on March 19. Then, on April 2, the new terminal will open to travelers.
The new 274,000-square-foot terminal houses new gates, more remote check-in kiosks for passengers and new restaurants for the airport including Nacho Hippo and Steak ‘n’ Shake.
Those new eateries still have some work ahead before they’re ready for customers. Crews were busy Monday getting them in shape, and handling other cosmetic procedures like sanding the wave-shaped fiberglass wall displays and using remote-operated cranes to take them high in the sky for caulking work.
“All those projects, they would have to be done before you get your (certificate of occupancy),” Lovell said.
The $118 million terminal was originally scheduled to open Feb. 19, but was delayed because of glitches with the delivery of some construction materials after Hurricane Sandy. Though officials had aimed to open before spring tourism heated up, golf promoters and Horry County leaders have said the six-week delay wouldn’t hurt the spring tourism season because visitors could still fly into the current terminal.
Horry County, which owns the airport, has been talking about expanding the terminal for more than a decade. The construction will bring the airport’s total number of gates from seven to 13.
The county came up with the current plan after the Myrtle Beach Community Appearance Board said building on the west side of the runway as originally proposed could have negative effects on new residents moving into planned neighborhoods on the former Myrtle Beach Air Force Base.
Horry County owns the airport, but it’s in the city limits so Myrtle Beach has to sign off on certain aspects of it.
“[The new terminal] gives us a new front door for our visitors that fly in,” Myrtle Beach spokesman Mark Kruea previously said. “Hopefully it will leave a good first impression.”
Contact BRAD DICKERSON at 626-0301 or follow him at Twitter.com/TSN_bdickerson.