Denver City Council approves $1.8 billion contract to revamp DIA terminal

DENVER -- The Denver City Council cleared the way for a massive multibillion-dollar renovation of Denver International Airport's Jeppesen Terminal early Tuesday morning.

The plan for the Great Hall is the city's first major public-private partnership at a city-owned building.

The council debated the contract until after 1 a.m., passing it on a 10-2 vote. Council members Rafael Espinoza and Debbie Ortega voted against the deal.

It means the airport, which opened in 1995 and has seen passenger traffic double, will look much different.

The Transportation Security Agency check-ins will be moved to the upper level by ticketing, and the Great Hall will become a secured area with shopping and dining on the main floor.

There are currently 30 standard checkpoint lanes that accommodate about 4,500 passengers an hour. When the project is completed, there will be 34 screening lanes that can each serve an estimated 8,500 passengers an hour.

The checkpoints will be consolidated to two areas of the terminal , and include increased queuing space and new technology for more effective and efficient security.

The $1.8 billion project is a public-private partnership with Ferrovial Airport, which will manage concessions on a 34-year contract.

Airport officials said it's a great match, but not everyone is on board.

“Essentially, we're taking all of the ticketing and TSA check-in activities that exist today and putting them all in the already crowded ticketing space," United Airlines spokesman John Kirby said.

“Denver is becoming a global city and we must continue to invest in an airport that matches that status,” Mayor Michael Hancock said. “This project represents what Denver has long excelled at -- preparing our city for the future.

"The Great Hall project will address vulnerabilities, improve the passenger experience, create hundreds of new jobs and provide the capacity to match the world’s growing desire to travel to and from the Mile High City.”

The project will allow the airport to continue to grow to match increasing passenger demand. The anticipated cost is $650 million to $770 million, with a $120 million contingency.

The project could be completed by 2021. No taxpayer money will be used for the project, which is expected to create 400 to 450 construction jobs, more than 800 permanent jobs and generate an additional $3.5 million in annual taxes and general fund revenue for the city.