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North side developments progressing as scheduled for airport

The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority plan for shifting passenger access and processing to the north side of the airport is taking shape.

The $264 million, 17-acre consolidated car rental facility and a new fixed-base operator facility are possibly just months from breaking ground, while last November, airport officials celebrated the opening of a new centralized receiving and distribution center to serve Lindbergh Field.

Though serving distinct purposes, all three projects have a common bond: making everyday airport logistics easier.

Last summer, the rental car facility, designed by Burlingame-based Demattei Wong Architecture, was in just the beginning stages of planning. Demattei Wong designed it to earn a minimum of LEED Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, as is the minimum standard for all Airport Authority projects now.

A rendering provided by facility architect Demattei Wong Architecture shows the southern view of the planned consolidated rental car center on the north side of Lindbergh Field. With a groundbreaking planned for May, it’s expected to be completed in 2015 and receive a minimum of LEED Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Those design plans and an application to begin construction were sent March 8 to the California Coastal Commission for approval. If all goes as planned, ground could break on the project by summer. The joint venture of Austin Commercial and Sundt Construction will serve as the construction manager at risk.

When completed, it will be an “incredible” facility, the airport contends.

“It really consolidates all the disparate rental car agencies into one location,” Airport Authority spokeswoman Katie Jones said.

Airport studies have concluded that rental car traffic represents 30-35 percent of all airport traffic on Harbor Drive. Bryan Enarson, vice president of development for the Airport Authority, said the new facility will not only help ease general traffic problems along Harbor Drive, but also allow for a single busing system to a centralized location.

Each rental company will no longer need its own rotation of buses.

The tying link between the planned facility and airport travelers will be a road on airport property connecting the facility to the terminal, routed around the runway. Progress on the road is in the early stages, but it’s one of a few “enabling” projects set to begin before the rental car facility groundbreaking and through its construction.

Also near a start is the construction of a neighboring fixed-base operator facility for corporate and general aviation. The operator facility, in line for a possible summer groundbreaking as well with Turner Construction, will serve all corporate and general aviation aircraft and provide fueling, maintenance and aircraft parking. Back in early 2012, the Airport Authority awarded a 37-year lease to Landmark Aviation for the facility’s development and operation.

A map shows the location of the new consolidated rental car facility. Image courtesy of San Diego County Regional Airport Authority

Because of their proximity to each other, the rental car center and fixed-base operator facility will also have roadway connector.

The Airport Authority is planning for all of the north side developments to have a bit of a campus feel, Jones said.

“So we’ll be doing some landscaping and sort of a grander entrance into the north side that really ties together all the items on the north side, and that rally makes that area something to behold,” she added.

The new receiving and distribution center is operating “very efficiently” since opening last November, airport officials said.

“It’s made things a lot easier for the whole team,” Jones said. “We’re looking forward to using it when all of our new concessions open up.”

About 38 new retail stores and food outlets will have a home at the airport with the completion of the Green Build terminal expansion project, scheduled for completion this August, and they’ll all be able to use the new receiving and distribution center.

Plans are still moving forward to also provide a link to a new intermodal transit center (ITC) on the north side, incorporating bus, trolley, rail and potential high-speed rail stops. But the building of that project rests in the hands of the San Diego Association of Governments, which worked with the Airport Authority and Metropolitan Transit System to develop the blueprint of Destination Lindbergh, which considered the ultimate build-out of San Diego International Airport.

As part of an ongoing effort to implement Destination Lindbergh, the airport in 2012 launched a new Airport Development Plan to look at the next steps possible in the overall blueprint.

“Destination Lindbergh was pretty conceptual, and now we’re doing the legwork to see if it’s actually feasible and what parts work best and what parts make economic sense,” Jones said.

The study is ongoing, and with two years for planning and two years for environmental review, the new ADP is expected to be completed by 2016.

General concepts of the plan, though, are expected later this year.

In addition to examining the possible ways to implement Destination Lindbergh, the ADP will also be used to determine what sorts of updates to Terminal 1 are needed and possible — be they modernization, expansion or some kind of replacement — and what to do with the Teledyne-Ryan property located southeast and adjacent to the airport.

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