Airport Consultant Recommends a 736-Space Garage Expansion at Tulsa Airport

Airport parking lots last year generated $4.8 million in revenue, a 16.3 percent increase from 2003.


Dec. 17--Although three parking operators provide 7,194 parking spaces at Tulsa International Airport, a consultant recommends constructing a 736-space expansion of the airport's parking garage.

The recommendation by Carl Walker Inc., a parking consultant from Frisco, Texas, is contained in an 18-page report presented this month to the Tulsa Airports Improvement Trust. Trustees accepted the report but have taken no action on it.

In the report's "Strategic Recommendations," Carl Walker states: "There is clear demand for additional covered parking at the terminal. Meeting that demand not only represents an opportunity for additional parking revenue but also responds to a rather clear desire of the travelers using the airport for covered parking."

Airport parking lots last year generated $4.8 million in revenue, a 16.3 percent increase from 2003. Airport parking is the fourth-highest revenue generator for the airport authority behind airline terminal rents, landing fees and rental car fees.

Carl Walker executives said their survey of airport parking operations found that, typically, 80 percent of covered parking spaces were occupied.

Trustee Carl Clay, however, said it is "strange" that the consultant proposed constructing additional parking while surplus space exists at the airport lots.

But the parking consultant and airport officials distinguish between covered parking, which the parking garage expansion would provide, and uncovered parking.

"It's a different product," said Airports Director Jeff Mulder. "Folks that park in the (parking) structure have covered parking, the convenience of walking to the terminal, but they pay more.

"People who use the surface lots pay less, but it's less convenient."

Heavy use of covered parking spaces in the parking garage, which is adjacent to the passenger terminal, prompted Carl Walker to recommend an increase in covered parking rates, to which trustees agreed.

Carl Walker said a rate increase would reduce overflow pressure on covered parking spaces and encourage some travelers to park at nearby airport shuttle lots without driving them to private off-airport competitors.

As of Dec. 1, rates for 1,400 covered parking spaces rose from $6.95 to $8.95 a day. Surface or shuttle lot rates are $4.95 a day and are scheduled to rise to $5.95 on March 1. There are 2,900 surface or uncovered parking spaces at the airport.

Fine Airport Parking, 2010 N. Memorial Drive, offers 2,363 covered and uncovered spaces, ranging from $3.95 to $12.95 a day. Airport All-Covered Parking, 2215 N. Sheridan Road, has 531 parking spaces at $5.95 and $6.95 a day.

Carl Walker's report proposes construction of a $13.6 million third deck on the airport's garage. It would have the advantage of providing 722 nearby covered spaces on the second level of the garage and 736 canopied spaces on the third level, the consultant found.

Adding a third deck would provide the most convenient covered parking, and it would use existing entries, exits and ramping systems as well as the foundations, columns and other structural components of the garage, the report concluded.

The disadvantages of expanding the garage include disruption of operations during construction and the necessity of phasing construction to minimize the shortage of long-term parking spaces.

Assuming construction of the garage expansion would begin in 2006, projected operating revenue in the first year after construction would be $1.3 million, Carl Walker said. Operating rev enue in the 10th year after construction would be $1.75 million, the consultant said.

Annual debt service on a 6 percent, 25-year loan on the $13.6 million project would be $1.06 million, yielding the airport trust an annual profit after bond debt of $280,059 in the first year and $689,501 in the 10th year.

"We're going to look at the information, look at the (five-year) Capital Improvement Plan and see where it makes sense to put it in the program," Mulder said. "I assume we'll do that sometime in the spring."

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