MIAMI — Los Angeles-based Westfield has offered up a sneak peek of what Los Angeles International Airport’s Terminal 6 will look like after the transformation of its retail and food/beverage outlets. This project, along with LAX’s overall capital improvement plan is being overseen by Debbie Bower, the deputy executive director of commercial development for Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA).

LAWA’s Debbie Bower. Image: Courtesy of Los Angeles World Airports
LAWA’s Debbie Bower. Image: Courtesy of Los Angeles World Airports

The new concessions at T6 is inspired by the city’s iconic Sunset Boulevard and will feature 14 L.A.-based brands and 13 new airport firsts anywhere, uniting the terminal’s existing disjointed buildings into a better passenger experience. The centerpiece of the 21 new dining and retail destinations in the 17,400-square-foot space is The Marketplace by Wolfgang Puck, which features three culinary stations – The Kitchen, WPizza and The Wine Bar, a full service bar.  The transformation will take place while the terminal continues to serve travelers and is expected to be completed in 2016.

Other concepts include:

  • Osteria by Fabio Viviani, a debut L.A. concept created by the famed “Top Chef” contestant;
  • M. Fredric clothing boutique;
  • Tumi travel essentials;
  • XpresSpa; and
  • See’s Candies.

LAWA’s Bower has already overseen concessions upgrades at LAX’s Terminals 4, 5, 7 and 8, which brought in popular local concepts including Pinkberry, La Brea Bakery and Ink Sack, the brainchild of “Top Chef” season six winner Michael Voltaggio. “When we marketed the changes we wanted to see in the terminals, we made it clear that we wanted local retail and food and beverage vendors,” she said. “And Westfield went a step further, offering themes for each terminal.”

A rendering of The Boulevard in LAX Terminal 6. Image: Courtesy of Westfield
A rendering of The Boulevard in LAX Terminal 6. Image: Courtesy of Westfield

Bower said it wasn’t a hard sell to get local outlets to come to LAX. “We interviewed so many local chefs. People were clamoring to be in here,” she said. “We were lucky because this trend of local vendors had already started when we were looking to upgrade our concessions.”

As part of the process, LAWA wanted someone to come in and show what they would do as terminal commercial manager, said Bower. The competitors were Westfield, Airmall and Marketplace Development, she said. “We wanted them to look at food and beverage versus retail versus duty-free versus services. We wanted the developer to take responsibility for the buildouts.”

LAWA chose Westfields for several reasons, said Bower. “They’re local, and they understand the permit process for the city, which was helpful,” she said. “They were a good choice, especially for the [Tom Bradley International Terminal]. They have come through in bringing in the locals, and the food and beverage choices have been really good.”

As proposals came in, they are scored and judged by Westfield, then the executive director, said Bower. “They didn’t bring in anyone that hasn’t worked. The only thing we asked is if we could have a mix of higher and lower-priced options, so they are keeping that in mind.”

Terminal 1 is the only one left for upgrades, said Bower. “We’re doing that one in phases because we need to work with Southwest [Airlines] so they don’t lose hold rooms and so far, it’s going really well. Southwest is pleased with the partnership.”

The only negative with the program is that it hasn’t hit the lower price points, said Bower. “We have all these great eateries that are a bit pricey for families,” he said. “But we’re cognizant of that in Terminal 1, so we want to hit the right tone.”

This all needed to be done because things hadn’t been updated in 15 years, said Bower. Some of the more popular newer concepts, she said, include Lemonade, Rock N Brew, Umami Burger, Border Grill, Ford Filling Station, The Engine Company, The Counter and Ink Sack, she said.

The concessions changes will be completed in 2018, said Bower. “The last one will be Terminal 1 because of Southwest’s construction schedule,” she said. “It’s really tight now, but we’re adding another 8,000 square feet in concessions space.”

The reaction to what’s been done so far has been absolutely positive, said Bower. “We haven’t heard any complaints, and people are always talking about the changes via social media,” she said.

“Once the concessions upgrade program is completed, we hope travelers will see a sense of place,” said Bower. “People will be able to see  that they have landed in Southern California.”