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Published: Saturday, 3/17/2001

Toledo Express parking lots in store for facelift

Parking lots at Toledo Express Airport will receive about $800,000 in improvements, if a contract the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority board of directors approved yesterday goes through.

Airport patrons could end up paying more for parking once the work is done, however.

Republic Parking System, of Chattanooga, Tenn., won out over two local firms in bidding for the right to take over operation of the airport lots after May 31, when the port authority's contract with HMS/Host expires. The port board authorized Airport Director Paul Toth to sign a contract with Republic.

The proposed contract is for five years, with a five-year option after that.

Under tentative terms outlined to the board in a staff report, Republic would reconstruct the lots' pavement, install new fences, signs, tollbooths, and lights, and build canopies over walkways leading toward the airport's passenger terminal.

The $800,000 figure is a rough estimate. The exact cost and scope of work remains to be determined, Brian Schwartz, a spokesman for the port authority, said.

Republic would be allowed 10 years to recover the cost of the capital improvements. If the port authority were to pass up the second five years of the agreement, it would have to buy out the remaining value of the work.

The port board authorized the contract without discussion.. But during a port board airport committee meeting a week earlier, Mr. Toth said a 50 cent per day increase in parking rates eventually could be warranted. Airport patrons now pay $5 a day for long-term parking, and $8 a day for short-term parking, with lower rates for stays of four hours or less.

Compared with similar airports' parking rates, “we're definitely on the low end,” Mr. Toth said. “Once we make the improvements, I could see bumping the rates up.”

Any change in the airport parking rates would be subject to port board approval.

The other bidders for the parking management contract were V/Gladieux Enterprises, Inc., and REU Park, of Toledo. HMS/Host did not submit a proposal.

The port authority will receive 79 percent of gross parking-lot revenue under the Republic proposal - down half a percent from the share the port authority gets from HMS/Host.

But the contract with HMS/Host, which has operated the parking lots since 1987, didn't include such a large amount of capital improvements, and last year the firm paid the port authority $108,000 after officials discovered that $108,000 in contractually required maintenance hadn't been done.

Port officials complained as well that HMS/Host occasionally left the lots unattended, which allowed patrons to leave without paying and thus reduced port revenue.

HMS/Host, under the same contract, runs the restaurants in the passenger terminal and manages the other commercial space there. Port authority staff members have met with firms interested in taking over those operations once the contract expires.

David Boston, the airport committee chairman, said that if a new concessions manager is chosen soon, the port authority may seek to buy out the remaining months of HMS/Host's contract.

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