Less “Mustang,” more welcome
$11.5 million project will put new digital face on Denver’s airport for travelers.
The Denver City Council took several votes Monday concerning airport operations, including one that will lay out a 1,000-foot welcome mat for travelers.
Denver International Airport and Panasonic Enterprise Solutions — which is part of the nearby Peña Station Next smart city development — will team up on a $11.5 million project that will use dynamic LED-lighted poles and screens. The effect, airport officials say, will be an iconic “ribbon” of moving light along Peña Boulevard. DIA will cover $7 million of the cost.
The council also approved new five-year contracts with DIA’s current parking and shuttle bus contractors that are worth a combined $268 million.
And council members gave their blessing to an intergovernmental agreement with Adams County and several suburban cities that will create a regional agency focused on promoting development of a job-creating aerotropolis surrounding DIA.
All of those matters won the council’s approval in block votes.
A massive welcome to DIA
Travelers by late summer or fall should receive a more welcoming greeting to DIA before they spot “Mustang,” the 32-foot blue horse with glowing red eyes that some have seen as little sinister.
“We’re talking about 1,000 feet and LED. And to our knowledge nothing like this has ever been done before,” Stu Williams, DIA’s senior vice president of special projects, told a council committee this month.
Among airports with signature welcomes, Los Angeles International Airport has gigantic letters spelling out “LAX.” But DIA and Panasonic are aiming for something that will set Denver apart.
The installation in the Peña Boulevard median will be visible to drivers in both directions just east of E-470, before the overhead crossing of the new University of Colorado A-Line train.
After splitting up-front costs (Panasonic will kick in $4.5 million), the city and Panasonic will share income from advertising on parts of the sign over the next 16 years. DIA’s share will be about 43 percent, which airport officials say should cover its costs in the long run.
Big contracts for parking, shuttles
Two main contractors for years have operated DIA’s far-flung garages and parking lots and shuttled passengers and employees to the terminal.
In its new contract, SP Plus
Corporation (Standard Parking) will continue to run customer service, collect parking fees and provide jump-starts to customers in need. Its contract is set at $90 million, running from Feb. 1 through January 2022.
On the shuttle side, ABM Parking Services’s new $178 million contract covers the same period. But it will expand its current role of operating the routes by also providing buses and maintaining them, as DIA has done until now. An airport spokeswoman says DIA projects it will save money by reducing its costs in those areas.
Parking is DIA’s largest source of non-airline income, projected to bring in $178 million this year from more than 44,000 spaces in garages and long-term lots.
In 2015, Denver and Adams County voters approved an agreement in which the previously battling governments would allow commercial development on DIA property. Denver’s suburban neighbors also were competing to leverage their proximity to DIA.
That deal called for the partners to “form a new regional entity to promote and market development opportunities on and around” the airport and “assist in coordinating land use and infrastructure planning efforts.”
Still unclear is how much the new agency will cost. The new agreement approved by Denver’s council Monday sets a March 31 deadline for a proposed budget.