DIA wants to make your passenger pick-up wait more pleasant with food court, bathrooms!

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To the side of Pena Boulevard is an inadvertent monument to airport planning, pre-9/11: No one in the '90s anticipated the incredible demand for a waiting area far away from arrival doors, and the 116 spaces that Denver International Airport shoehorned into its jerry-rigged, 45-minute waiting area are almost always jammed with gas-guzzling, idling cars.

But finally the city is about to make some sense -- as well as dollars and cents -- out of the 45-minute waiting area.

Yesterday DIA managers presented a plan to Denver City Council's Business, Workforce and Sustainability Committee that would move the waiting area from its current location to a spot near the Conoco gas station that would not only have 160 spaces, but also some amenities for everyone stuck waiting, and waiting, to pick up passengers. Restrooms, for example, as well as a monitor with up-to-date flight information. And a food court with four quick-service restaurants: sandwich, coffee, Italian and Mexican concepts.

The airport has an agreement with Pacific Convenience and Fuels, which currently leases the site that already has a Conoco gas station, convenience store and car wash (and will soon add a Wendy's drive-thru), that calls for PC&F investing approximately $4.5 million on the waiting-area project, which is scheduled to be completed on May 1, 2013. But this isn't a charitable venture: The first year of sales is projected at $2.8 million. DIA will receive 15 percent of the food court gross sales, while the city's sales tax take is estimated at $112,000 per year.

"Denver International Airport continuously strives to offer world-class amenities for its customers," Chief Commercial Officer John Ackerman told councilmembers. "It also makes good business sense to place the 45-minute waiting area near modern amenities."

Some of which, like the bathrooms, are even free!

The committee voted unanimously to send the agreement on for the approval of the full council and Mayor Michael Hancock.

Now DIA just needs to figure out what to do with that other monument to poor planning: the original toll booth in the median by the current 45-minute waiting area. Read about the city's attempts to lease that spot, and our suggestions for possible tenants, here.

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