Atlanta officials are seeking world-class bids for two coming construction projects that they say will shape Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport’s revenue outlook and reputation for the next half-century.
City and airport leaders on July 28 held meetings explaining requests for proposals on the Airport City hotel and mixed-use project and the Green Acres ATL Energy Park, a waste processing facility with ambitious goal of keeping 90 percent of the airport’s trash out of landfills.
Located on 26 acres just outside the concourses west of the airport, the vision for the Airport City includes a 300- to 400-room hotel, a travel plaza with a gas station and 30,000 square feet of class-A office space. Three teams have been chosen to submit proposals: Regent Partners, Airmall USA Inc. and a consortium including Carter, Majestic Realty Co. and GPM Investments LLC.
“We are looking for an outstanding design with an industry-leading brand to be right here at the front-door of our airport,” said Kyle Mastin, concessions manager for Hartsfield-Jackson. “We hope to have a developer that comes in and grabs the whole desire to put this airport development on the map.”
The airport is offering a 50-year land lease and will charge a fixed rent starting at $0.30 per square foot and a percentage of revenue generated by the properties, not including room fees, gas sales or office rent payments. The developer will be tasked with financing and operating the final project. Bids are due Oct. 7, and the project could break ground as early as spring 2016.
At the meeting, teams were encouraged to think of ways to blend efficiency with panache in proposals that will be heavily weighted on creativity.
“This is the ‘wow factor,” said Mr. Mastin. “We’re looking for your group to pull together what it’s going to be, what brand is it going to be, how will it be unique, what services you’ll be providing — all those things are going to be packaged in there as you sell your company, your group, your vision.”
Officials said the number of hotel rooms and the configuration of the land, for instance, aren’t directly mandated by the bid documents. Developers can increase the room quantity, building height or include underground structures, for instance, as long as the plans don’t interfere with Federal Aviation Administration regulations or airport construction plans. Teams can also suggest changes to the lease agreement that would aid their plans.
Similarly, with the Green Acres project, Hartsfield-Jackson is looking for a bidder with a vision to set its sustainability efforts apart, says Liza Milagro, senior sustainability planner at the airport.
“We’re asking for best-in-class innovation on every level and aspect of the project,” she said.
The ambitious facility is to be located on 39 acres owned by the city of Atlanta just south of the fifth runway in Clayton County. It will receive a variety of waste from the airport, from paper cups, wrappers and plastic bottles to construction materials, yard trimmings and food scraps, including an estimated 175,000 gallons of cooking oil and 50,000 gallons of trapped grease annually — all from the seven concourses that process 96 million passengers per year.
The facility must also make room for 19,000 tons of landscape clippings per year from the the City of Atlanta’s Department of Public Works, and it could eventually be open to other municipalities looking for a place to dispose of compostable materials. Ms. Milagro said there are just a handful of compost facilities in Georgia, and none in the city of Atlanta.
The goal is to “zero waste to landfill”, which in this case means 90 percent of material recycled or composted. An audit of the airport’s waste from 2012 found that only 5 percent of it was recycled and that 18,637 tons of material went to landfills. The good news is that the audit also determined that 90 percent could be recycled or composted.
A request for proposals outlining the 30-year land lease went live in February; it generated some 300 inquiries but no bids, Ms. Milagro said. The airport pulled the RFP in June, revamped it and renewed it July 20. Proposals are now due Aug. 19; the goal is to break ground on the project in 2017.
The design calls for a sorting and manufacturing process will churn out compost, biogas and slag. Respondents have been asked to show their expertise in gray water filtration and reuse, agricultural production and commercial greenhouses, waste-to-energy conversion and more.
Some ideas for the project came from facilities Ms. Milagro’s team has researched in places as far away as Kyoto, Japan, and as close as Montgomery, Ala.
For her, it’s all about distinguishing Hartsfield-Jackson in an increasingly competitive environment for airports internationally. Singapore, for instance, has a koi pond and a butterfly garden, and airports like Dubai and a new one planned for Beijing are following suit with “lifestyle-enhanced designs.”
“In order to maintain our leadership role in aviation, we have to step outside of the box a little bit and be more innovative,” Ms. Milagro said.
The Green Acres facility will complement the airport’s planned terminal renovations, cargo upgrades and the hotel project, she said, all of which will generate more “commodities” to be processed at the facility. She expects that the facility will begin receiving materials in spring 2017 and estimates that it will create 110 jobs.