Indy airport signs new eateries, considers nixing e-cigarettes

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The Indianapolis Airport Authority might broaden its smoking ban to include electronic cigarettes.

The airport banned smoking in 2007 as it prepared to open a new terminal. Authority members have stood firm on their restrictive ordinance, which prohibits smoking even outside the baggage claim doors and in parking areas.

At its meeting Friday morning, the authority discussed a proposal to ban e-cigarettes, also known as vapor pens. It will be the subject of a public hearing March 21.

The authority might add to the list of personnel authorized to issue citations for smoking and do away with a schedule of escalating fees, replacing it with a $75 fine for any offense.

If the authority adopts the smoking-ban changes, they would take effect April 1.

In other action at the meeting:

• Airport concessions operator Areas USA will unload three under-performing stands: Giorgio’s in the Civic Plaza and two Cold Stone Creamery stands on post-security concourses. A new operator, OHM Concession Group, plans to open Chic-fil-A in the Giorgio’s space, a Freshens frozen yogurt stand on Concourse A and Corona Beach House on Concourse B.

OHM will invest $1.2 million and has guaranteed the airport $295,000 a year in exchange for an extended lease agreement that runs until 2025. The airport could see revenue above the minimum guarantee if the new restaurants’ sales meet OHM projections.

Brian Shapiro, president of the firm that operates Shapiro's Delicatessan in the airport, attended the meeting and asked the board to populate retail spaces with more local vendors.

Authority President Mike Wells replied that the airport needed to strike a balance between local and outside options. Traffic at the airport isn't as robust as once projected, and local operators sometimes have cash-flow problems and other issues that make it difficult to stay in business.

"We also have to listen to our customers, to hear what they want," Wells said.

• The airport is looking to a public-private partnership to help lower the cost of storm-water management.

The authority agreed to hire a transaction adviser, Rain Street Advisors LLC.  Rain Street, the firm of public-private partnership consultant Ralph McGinley, will receive 1 percent of the deal’s value, which will be determined after the financial aspects and structure of a final transaction are known, according to a memo from Executive Director Bob Duncan.

If the airport doesn’t go forward with a storm water-management project, Rain Street will receive a $50,000 break-up fee.

The airport will immediately publish a “request for expressions of interest” on the project.

• The authority considered awarding a 10-year, $1.3 million annual contract to Indianapolis-based Johnson Melloh Solutions to manage the Indianapolis Maintenance Center, the former United Airlines repair base. Members authorized airport Executive Director Bob Duncan to sign the contract, pending a few extra questions from board members.

Johnson Melloh, which also operates the airport’s Central Energy Plant, beat out four other bidders. (The losing bidders were CH2M Hill of Colorado, Maintech Acquisition LLC of New York, DTM Real Estate Services LLC of Indianapolis and GRM Facilities Management of New Jersey.)

Johnson Melloh proposed to operate the 1.7 million-square-foot IMC for $300,000 less than the current contractor. Total savings could be $550,000 a year after rebidding sub-contracts and saving money on supplies, materials and energy consumption.

• The authority OK’d bid specifications for the rehabilitation of Taxiway D, which is most often used by FedEx cargo planes. The construction project is estimated to cost $1 million to $5 million. The bidding opportunity will be advertised in March.


  • overkill
    Indy used to have a lot more flights. Now that airport looks like a ghost town many parts of the day. Maybe the real need for concessions is at the FedEx terminal since they seem to be one of the few busy parts of the airport. The new terminal looks nice but the old one would have served the city just as well.
  • Cost to fly
    Maybe the reason that "Traffic at the airport isn't as robust as once projected, and local operators sometimes have cash-flow problems and other issues that make it difficult to stay in business local eateries" is because it is less expensive (most of the time) for me to drive to Cincy for any flight/airline than to fly directly our of Indianapolis. Why is that exactly?
  • Frenzy
    Airplane fumes are more dangerous to a person's health than a whiff of cigarette smoke coming through the vents. The hysteria over smoking is out of control and unreasonable. Banning water vapor too? Please.
  • Local business
    Good for Brian Shapiro for speaking up for local business. I am always so proud to suggest to travelers that they try our local selections at the airport and believe it's so important to support our local business owners. How about putting a SpiceBox, Elbow Room or Red Lion Grog House in one of the locations? Different food and it's local!
  • Cough
    I think that IAA needs to get their own people to shot smoking on the grounds. I work in one of the offices below the concourse and oftem smell cig smoke in the restroom that comes through the vents. it is either the maintenance people or someone outside on the tarmac. And I agree, give them somewhere to smoke, they are going to do it anyway. Who wants to be the "bad guy" who has to hand out tickets?
  • Personal Liberties
    This really surprises me. Indiana was listed as one of the top states for personal liberties, then there is our airport. I am not a smoker, but I do not understand why having a designated outside area for patrons that do smoke is such an issue. Let alone a vapor e-cig. Just makes no sense!

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  1. What became of this project? Anyone know?

  2. Scott, could you post an enlarged photo of the exterior of the building? This will be a great addition to Walnut Street. This area will only continue to develop with additions like this. Also, please give us more updates on the "Cultural Trail light" expansion. Also a great move for the city, as long as there is maintenance money set aside.

  3. Great story IBJ! Citizens don't have a real sense of the financial magnitude of supporting Indy's sports and tourism sector. The CIB was a brilliant idea for creating a highly integrated public-private partnership to support this sector from the economic activity it generates. Unfortunately, most folks think the benefits of that economic activity accrue directly to the City budget, and it doesn't. So though the CIB is facing lean times (covering its costs while maintaining minimally acceptable reserves), the City is operating with deficit - less tax revenue than expenses each year - with a very fragile reserve balance. That's why it's so challenging for the City to fund basic needs or new intitatives (e.g. pre-k education; new jail), and some credit rating agencies have downgraded Indy from it's past stellar AAA status. More reporting on City finances would be welcomed.

  4. Sure, I'll admit that it bugs me to see that the IBJ.COM censors it's blog posts almost as much as the D of I does when someone points out the falsehoods and fabrications. _____But I think it bothers me almost as much that Captain/Defender/Disciple get his yanked too. You see, those of us with a sense of integrity, humanity, compassion, and a need for fact based opinion WANT to see all of his screeds posted. It makes our point so much better than we can do it ourselves.

  5. We're conflating two very different topics. Voter fraud is a myth and excessive gun violence is all too real. I just hope rational gunowners decide to stop being shouted down by the, well, let's call them "less rational" ones.