Denver International Airport’s proposed $1.8 billion terminal partnership — combining a wide-scale renovation with three decades of private management of new food and retail outlets — has raised scores of questions from City Council members who are under the gun to approve it by month’s end.
Many of their concerns, and those expressed by observers, drive toward an overarching question: Is the 34-year public-private partnership contract, proposed with a team led by Madrid-based Ferrovial Airports, a good deal for Denver?
But that question eludes clear-cut answers, as some council members have found in assessing both the financial aspects and larger questions surrounding DIA officials’ big bet on the 22-year-old airport’s future.
Rafael Espinoza, who represents northwest Denver, doesn’t like what he sees, in large part because he thinks such a long partnership risks tying the hands of future DIA and city leaders.
“I am completely comfortable with us taking the work that Ferrovial has done the last year, paying them $9 million for doing a good job, and then doing the work ourselves,” said Espinoza, referring to the walk-away fee due to Ferrovial if the contract isn’t approved by the Sept. 1 deadline spelled out in an earlier negotiations agreement.
“Denver would get 100 percent of the revenue,” he added, “and would be in control of the terminal concessions as well as the terminal — so that if anything changes in the next 34 years, we can adapt.”
A switch to a more traditional method of government contracting might be possible, DIA officials acknowledge,…
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