Tuesday, January 31, 2023

ILM daily parking rates increase, another lot in the works

Revenues will help pay for Airport Boulevard realignment

The airport authority last week approved parking lot rate increases to help offset future project costs for the Airport Boulevard realignment. (Port City Daily/Alexandria Sands Williams)

WILMINGTON — Parking at Wilmington International Airport may get a little easier but also a little more expensive. Last week, the airport authority approved a slight increase in the daily rates for three of its six parking lots. It also approved a contract to initiate steps in road and parking-lot improvements.

To support the project, the airport will tack on an extra dollar for parking in economy, main and premium lots.

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Prior to Covid, ILM’s parking often reached capacity so a study was conducted to come up with solutions. As a result, the airport authority has agreed to create a seventh lot, constructed northwest of the existing main lot. The project will also realign its main access road, Airport Boulevard, to support expansion.

ILM currently has 1,774 parking spaces total, including handicapped designated spots. The size and number of spaces in the future lot have yet to be determined.

The economy lot, currently containing 316 parking spots, will increase from $8 to $9 daily. The main parking lot, with 709 parking spaces, will increase from $10 to $12 daily, and the premium lot, with 232 spaces, will change from $14 to $15 daily.

Price increases go into effect in the coming months, no sooner than May 1; however, three lots will remain unchanged. All six locations allow the first 30 minutes of parking for free and charge $1 for 30 minutes to one hour. Parkers pay an additional dollar per hour or the maximum rate.

“ILM reviews rates in each lot on a regular basis and the time was appropriate for a market adjustment,” ILM spokesperson Erin McNally said.

The last time the airport increased prices of its main daily lot was in 2015, and it’s been three years since there was a raise in the premium and economy daily spaces, McNally added.

At the airport authority’s Apr. 6 meeting, chair Donna Girardot said ILM rates still remain lower than its peer airports.

Typically ILM compares its rates to airports such as Raleigh and Myrtle Beach. Both economy lots at the airports are a dollar more than ILM, while comparable main and premium lots are now equal.

“We’re not just raising these rates because they came up on an agenda,” ILM authority vice chair Spruill Thompson said at the meeting. “We did study this and gave it new consideration. We’re not raising this beyond where we think the reasonable amount is and the market rate is for an airport this size.”

Parking fees contribute to ILM’s operating revenues. Over the past few years, parking made up an average 31%, or $2.9 million, of its earnings. In February 2022, paid parking lots contributed $287,106 to the airport’s budget — a 107.6% increase from February 2021; however, it is still 28.7% lower than February 2020, which brought in $402,911.

According to ILM’s monthly financial summary, most major revenue streams are still lower than pre-pandemic figures but continue to improve. Business travel remains down which also affects the lag in parking revenue, the summary noted.

Revenues from the increase in parking rates will be set aside and utilized as one of the funding streams for the airport’s Airport Boulevard realignment project.

ILM awarded Carolina Beach-based engineering firm AVCON a $97,196 contract to perform topographic work and physical surveys for the future design of a new revenue parking lot. The survey will cover 88 acres of land around the airport to pave the way on how to move forward. 

Airport Boulevard is the access road to the airport off North 23rd Street and circles around the terminal. With the expansion of the airport adding at least 78,000 square feet and increased the airport’s total size by 75%, an adjustment of the road will ensure it lines up more accurately with the front of the terminal. A portion of the road may be relocated.

“At project completion, the ILM terminal will offer separate curbs for commercial traffic and private vehicles, creating a smooth transition from the road to the terminal building,” McNally explained. 

This will allow taxis, rideshare vehicles and buses to have a designated lane separate from individual vehicles making drop offs and pickups, easing traffic around the terminal.

Work is expected to begin immediately and be complete by early summer.

“We are in the very early stages,” she said. “Additional details will be provided in the future as the project progresses.”

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