“You got mad because you had to leave your community to find the goodness, and the goodness was here, and you destroyed it. Where is it at now?”
“I remember when 46th was a dirt road, and Pecos going north was a dirt road. There were dairy farms there, in my lifetime. So I’ve watched progress. This is beyond progress — this is greed.”
— Sid Quintana, lifelong Northside resident
“I worry that the conversation will lead people to think that the solutions will be to stop improving minority neighborhoods, and I believe that’s racist.”
— John Hayden, president of the Curtis Park Neighbors and “classic gentrifier”
There are four lawsuits playing out in local and federal courts that touch on the project in some way, two of them focused on a related drainage project, Platte to Park Hill, and two of them focused on air quality issues and the impact to the Elyria-Swansea neighborhood through which I-70 runs.
DIA definitely needs to change its security operations, but how does the public know whether a $1.8 billion public-private partnership is a good deal?
The sometimes hundreds of people waiting in line to pass through security at Denver International Airport represent a serious vulnerability that can’t be fixed in the existing configuration of the airport’s Great Hall. A major renovation planned for the main terminal would dramatically reconfigure the security screening area and open up space for a premium shopping area before passengers head off to their gates.
To make this project happen, DIA wants to enter into a 34-year, $1.8 billion agreement with a private consortium headed by Ferrovial, a Spanish giant in the transportation infrastructure world that also manages London’s Heathrow Airport. The Great Hall Partners would oversee all aspects of design and construction, bring a certain amount of private financing to the table, manage the concessions, take a cut of the revenue and get reimbursed by the airport every year for expenses like debt payments and operations and maintenance.
The airport could bond for the entire project at a lower cost, but airport executives believe the deal brings enough benefits to be worth paying a premium for the financing. The greatest of those benefits are protection from cost overruns during construction and coordination among numerous contractors to keep the airport running smoothly during a complex, phased project, DIA CEO Kim Day said.
Against this argument, some community members, labor organizers, airline executives and Denver City Council members have concerns: that pay and benefits won’t be as good for concessions and janitorial staff, that local businesses will get fewer opportunities, that the focus on concessions creates the wrong incentives, that potential changes to the project design could leave the city on the hook not just for change-orders now but for lost revenue to a private company for years to come.
Denver City Council was set to discuss the contract Monday, Aug. 7, but the debate was put off until a public hearing and vote scheduled for the following Monday, Aug. 14. If they don’t approve the contract by Sept. 1, the city will be on the hook for a $9 million penalty to Great Hall Partners.
Here’s what you need to know as this deal moves forward: