SOUTH BURLINGTON — Burlington International Airport is close to reaching a deal that would bring a 104-bedroom hotel to the site, says airport Aviation Director Gene Richards.
For years officials have sought to bring a hotel to the airport, particularly to benefit people who drive long distances to get there.
“Most of our flights leave early in the morning and come in late at night. This would allow you to just walk across the hall and jump on your flight,” Richards said.
Eighteen months after Williston-based DEW Construction responded to a request for proposals to build and manage a hotel, Richards said he expects to have an agreement signed with the company by October.
The two parties are negotiating a 48-year lease for a roughly 2-acre parcel next to the parking garage at the southern entrance. DEW is fielding bids from several national hotel chains, Richards said.
The project is expected to cost $12 million to $15 million. Construction could begin as early as next year if the required municipal approvals can be secured.
Burlington International Airport belongs to Burlington but is located in South Burlington. Therefore, the Queen City’s board of finance and City Council would need to sign off on the transaction.
The project would also require approval from South Burlington’s Development Review Board. South Burlington has sparred with Richards and airport officials in the past over noise issues and the airport’s buyout program for nearby homes.
In a nod to concerns about airport expansion, Richards said the proposal doesn’t increase the airport’s footprint in South Burlington. South Burlington would also collect property and meals and rooms taxes from the new hotel, he said. A hotel is an allowable use under current zoning, according to Richards.
South Burlington Town Manager Kevin Dorn said the proposal falls in line with the city’s “pro-business” orientation and that it could provide nominal additional noise mitigation.
“If you stand beside the Airport Deli (across the street from the airport) and listen to a plane take off, it’s clear that the garage and airport terminal mitigate the noise to some extent, so more structure could help too,” Dorn said.
South Burlington City Council Chair Helen Riehle said she’d been away on vacation and had not heard about the latest iteration of the airport’s hotel plans, but is aware that a hotel has long been a priority.
“I think there are some positive parts, so I could be very supportive, but I need to understand the nuances — the fine print if you will,” Riehle said.
Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger supports the project, saying in a statement from a spokeswoman: “This project will continue the important trend of increasing and diversifying the airport’s revenue, improve the entrance to the airport, and give the traveling public a valuable and convenient new option.”
Separately, the Federal Aviation Administration recently said it will award a nearly $12 million grant to Burlington International Airport to pay for the relocation of Taxiway G.
Taxiway G is on the southeastern side of the airfield. Relocation is intended to increase safety and improve operations, according to an announcement from the U.S. Department of Transportation.