Bob Hope Airport's new parking structure, meant to replace the 1,000-plus parking spaces lost as the airport builds a new transportation center, opened earlier this month.
The structure is being used exclusively by the airport's valet parking service for now, said Dan Feger, the airport's executive director, during an airport authority meeting on Monday.
"They are now keeping cars closer to the drop-off point, and it actually helps them deliver cars faster. That's what the customer will see," he said.
The surface-lot spaces that were formerly used by the valet operator are not yet being opened to self-parking, however.
The replacement parking structure is the first completed piece of the airport's new $112-million transportation center, which also includes a consolidated car rental facility that is now about 60% complete, Feger said.
The parking structure, which has 1,043 spaces, wrapped up on schedule and within budget, Feger said, adding that at $8.4 million, it was a bargain for the airport.
"The pricing for this structure is basically 1993 pricing, [meaning] you're paying $8,200 a stall or something like that, and that is reflective of what it would cost to build parking structures in 1993," he said.
Feger said that the airport's parking operations contractor, Standard Parking, is conducting a study to determine the best use of the structure and the newly available surface-lot spaces, some of which are covered by canopies.
The study would look at how to price the newly available spaces, including the idea of charging more for "premium" spaces that are covered, according to airport spokesman Victor Gill.
"The replacement parking structure being used for valet will free up a lot of spaces in that area," he said. "Right now, the thought would be that those kinds of spaces have a potential market for self-parking customers."
Gill said that if the airport does open the former valet spots to self-parking, the parking lot layout would have to be altered to allow self-parking customers to enter and exit.
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