Palm Beach airport adding travel plaza
Mar 17, 2013 (Sun Sentinel - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Waiting for a flight at Palm Beach International Airport is about to get more interesting.
Soon you will be able to get a car wash, fill up your gas tank or grab a cup of coffee at a new travel plaza that will be built by the cellphone waiting lot at the southwest corner of Belvedere and Florida Mango roads.
Palm Beach County commissioners approved an agreement for a developer to build a nearly $3 million travel plaza on 113,211 square feet of empty land at the airport.
The plaza will include a gas station, convenience store, one or two fast food restaurants, an automatic car wash, free wireless Internet access and bathrooms. A flight display screen with real-time information also will be included.
The plaza is expected to open in 2015.
"We're very excited," said Laura Beebe, deputy director of airport business affairs. "We think it will be a great customer amenity. And it will also generate revenue for the airport."
The county is leasing the land to the developer, New York-based Airport Plazas Management, for $152,848 per year. Plus, it will get a cut of the money the plaza generates two years after the plaza is open.
For every gallon of gas sold, the airport will receive half a cent. It also will receive 2.5 percent of revenues exceeding $1 million. The developer estimated that the airport would receive more than $167,000 in the third year and $173,000 in the fourth year the plaza is open.
As part of the deal, the developer will be required to build a new cellphone lot with 60 parking spaces as part of the plaza.
"Compared to what they've got now, it's a good idea," said Stan Hagan, of West Palm Beach, while waiting at the airport's cellphone lot to pick up a passenger. "It beats sitting here in a bare parking lot with no shade."
As it is now, the airport's cellphone waiting area is a barren, 80-space lot with a few trash cans, a couple of trees and a sign with the airlines' phone numbers -- surrounded by a chain-link fence.
Other airports are doing similar projects outside their terminals.
Southwest Florida International Airport in Lee County is building a travel plaza. Miami International Airport is pursuing a plan that some have dubbed "Airport City" that would have a gas station, convenience store, business park and hotels, including a pet hotel.
In addition to giving customers more options, the projects would raise money for the airports.
The developer also has been awarded contracts to build travel plazas at John F. Kennedy International Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport and Indianapolis International Airport.
Jay Davis, of Jupiter, seemed skeptical of the idea of an amenity-filled cellphone lot.
"I don't know how long you wait at these things," he said at the airport's cellphone lot. But when he heard about the bathrooms and flight display screen, the concept grew on him.
"That's a good idea," he said. "You can see which flights are coming in on time."
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