Feb. 25--The Charlotte City Council voted unanimously Monday to hire an Atlanta-based company to manage the curbside and business valet parking services at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, replacing a local company that had held the job for a decade.
The city made the change after the current valet management company, Park Inc., had problems with keeping the service adequately staffed, said Interim Aviation Director Brent Cagle.
A valet employee had also been arrested and charged in October with stealing customers' cars and using them while the owners were away.
The new firm, AmeriPark, works at other airports and handles valet parking at SouthPark mall.
AmeriPark will take over the Charlotte airport valet service in the summer.
The three-year contract calls for AmeriPark to be reimbursed for expenses, which are estimated to be $2.3 million for the first year. The firm will be paid a management fee of $36,000 and can receive an incentive payment based on new revenues, which would be capped at $130,000.
Brian Haupricht, president of Park Inc., protested the vote Monday.
"We have issues with the bids being recommended," Haupricht said.
He said AmeriPark's proposal calls for fewer people to handle cars, in response to the airport's decision to increase daily curbside valet rates from $14 to $28 a day.
"They are hoping the changes in revenue will change the number of customers," he said. "We haven't seen a drop-off" since the rates increased.
He also stressed his company has 232 employees and is "locally owned and operated."
Cagle said the contract hadn't been put out to bid since 2003.
"We realized it was time to take this out to competition," he said.
Cagle said he was impressed that AmeriPark has its employees wear bracelets that track their movements.
"They can track the employee from when he parks the car to when he turns in the keys," he said.
The curbside valet operation generates profits for Charlotte Douglas. In fiscal 2013, the valet operation generated $6.1 million worth of revenue on $1.6 million worth of expenses, leading to a profit of $4.5 million.
Charlotte Douglas paid Park Inc. about $2.6 million in fiscal 2013, slightly more than the $2.4 million AmeriPark could earn under the proposed contract.
Haupricht has said the traffic problems with curbside valet can be traced back to the airport's management.
Construction since last year has disrupted much of the roadway in front of the terminal and led to a parking crunch, with thousands fewer spaces. Haupricht said that has boosted demand for valet services at a time when the airport has too few valet parking spaces.
Residents and property owners have voted down one proposed noise wall that would have been built on the Brookshire Freeway near Alpha Mill, but another noise wall will be built nearby in Fourth Ward on the same highway closer to Interstate 77, according to the city of Charlotte.
The N.C. Department of Transportation has proposed building the walls along Interstate 77 and Interstate 277 to shield residents from noise. The proposed walls on I-77 weren't controversial, but Center City Partners and some city officials said the proposed walls on I-277 would be ugly.
A proposed noise wall on I-277 near North Brevard Street was rejected after voting in February. But the other wall -- mostly west of North Tryon Street -- didn't receive enough no votes to be stopped, according to results read at Monday's City Council meeting.
DOT's policy allowed tenants and property owners living adjacent to the walls to vote on whether they want the walls. If a vote isn't returned, DOT considers it a yes vote in favor of the walls. Council members said they wanted to reverse the decision.
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