MIA's South Terminal set to open amid high expectations

$1.1 billion facility will see phased-in opening process

Passengers will also see plenty of art. The airport is spending $9.4 million on art projects, including $5 million for a terrazzo floor, glass and stone panels depicting the environment of the Everglades.

In all, the terminal will feature 50,000 square feet of concession space, including an 8,900-square-foot food pavilion and a 1,000-square-foot-long concession hall, with a total of 49 new dining, retail and duty-free locations.

There, passengers eventually will be able to buy a portable DVD player, grab a guayabera, or snag a travel iron or some jewelry. International customers will be able to shop duty free.

"We're looking forward to the terminal and bringing our stores to the terminal," said Charles Finkelstein, president of Faber, a retail operator which will open 10 stores in the South Terminal.


But initially, travelers will see a not-quite-completed terminal.

Stores and restaurants aren't expected to open for three to four months, said Patricia Ryan, Miami-Dade Aviation's division director for commercial operations.

In the meantime, temporary newsstand kiosks will be set up, as well as carts offering such items as sandwiches, chips and pastries.

"The challenge," Ryan said, "is how to provide the service while everyone is building out."

When everything is done, the hope is that the terminal will do much to change the impression of MIA from a dilapidated, dungeon-like airport, to a futuristic facility.

Said Neves: "I think it's going to change the impression the tourists have of MIA."

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