By Shawn Chitnis

DENVER (CBS4)– City leaders and the partners overseeing a massive project to redesign the main terminal at Denver International Airport celebrated the start of the Great Hall Project Thursday with more details on the plans leading up to its completion in 2021.

“It’s time for us to change this,” said Kim Day, DIA CEO. “To recreate this traveler oasis this was when we opened in 1995.”

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The project is estimated to cost around $700 million and last three and a half years. It will update the security screening process as well as improve the experience for passengers in the airport waiting for their flights. Both airline check-in and TSA will be on Level 6 with new dining and retail options taking over Level 5. The airport will also update the infrastructure and systems inside the terminal like heating and cooling, escalators, elevators, and restrooms.

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Key players for the project including the group of companies that make up Great Hall Partners were inside the terminal speaking about the long-term impact of these improvements. The Public Private Partnership allows for outside money to help cover the upfront cost and then allow those investors to receive part of the revenue years later. One of those partners is NBA legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson.

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Earvin “Magic” Johnson (credit: CBS)

“That’s what Magic Johnson Enterprises have always been about, creating jobs for those who live in the communities I invest in,” he said.

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The construction company involved has designed other major airport improvements around the world. Ferrovial Airports will be the lead of Great Hall Partners. The company chairman says the project will help keep Denver relevant to a global audience.

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“Standing under these iconic tents,” said Rafael del Pino. “[They] serve as the gateway to this incredible city where the Rocky Mountains meet the world.”

Each major phase of the project will last about 10 months and then the final phase will take 12 months.

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  • Mid 2019: First phase of new check-in counters and the first phase of the new commercial area open
  • Early 2020: All remaining new check-in counters open with all airlines in their final locations
  • Late 2020: New TSA passenger screening areas open
  • Late 2021: Construction complete including all the new commercial areas

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“For women and minority owned businesses, for small local businesses in the city of Denver, to show what they have, to showcase their talent to the world,” said Albus Brooks, the Denver City Council President.

Shawn Chitnis reports weeknights for CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. Email him story ideas at smchitnis@cbs.com and connect with him on Twitter or Facebook.

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