The Oklahoma City Council on Tuesday gave the go-ahead for a new Will Rogers World Airport car rental center that's expected to open in the spring of 2015.
The council authorized the Oklahoma City Airport Trust to borrow up to $50 million for the project; the current estimate is $44 million.
The sleek center will serve airport needs well into the future while freeing up parking spaces near the terminal for visitors, Airports Director Mark Kranenburg said.
Drivers approaching Will Rogers on Meridian Avenue from Airport Road will see the center on their right, on a 35-acre site just before SW 54 Street.
CNG-powered buses will make the 3-minute run between the terminal and the center — a time Kranenburg said is among the best in the industry.
Tuesday was the public's first look at the architects' drawing, completed in the past few weeks, of the building's exterior.
Council members voted unanimously to authorize the project.
A charge on rental cars, now set at $4.50 per day, is to pay off the debt over 30 years at a rate of about $3 million per year.
The building is designed to accommodate 900 rentals — known as “ready-return” spaces — and consolidate rental company administrative, customer service and maintenance operations.
Will Rogers now has space for 400 rentals, while current demand is for about 600, airport spokeswoman Karen Carney said. To compensate, rental companies shuttle cars from their airport service facilities or from off-site locations, she said.
The Airport Trust has deals with Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Alamo, National, Hertz, Dollar, Thrifty — all at the airport now — and Advantage, which operates from an off-airport facility.
Around 20 percent of passengers arriving at Will Rogers rent a car, Kranenburg said.
Kranenburg told the council that officials were meeting Tuesday and Wednesday with credit rating agencies.
Bonds are to be sold in September, with construction starting in the fall.
The financing package is expected to have “minimal impact” on the Airport Trust's overall debt burden and to preserve its capacity for future borrowing, Kranenburg told the council.