Indy airport signs new eateries, considers nixing e-cigarettes

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.

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