CLEVELAND — More parking will be available to travelers at Cleveland Hopkins after the airport purchased the Sheraton Cleveland Airport hotel.
The airport has plans to tear down the aging structure and repurpose the location into a new parking facility in the long term, but the hotel’s 432-space parking lot will provide some short-term relief when it comes to parking.
The opportunity to purchase the Sheraton was one that airport director Robert Kennedy said they couldn’t pass up, and the airlines currently servicing Cleveland Hopkins agreed to cover the cost of the hotel.
“In so many things, we were already behind the curve,” said Kennedy. “This has presented an opportunity that our air carriers agreed, and we seized upon it.”
Kennedy said the lot will be available to travelers in the coming weeks, and no longer than 30-days once everything is finalized with the hotel property. The airport reopened the Brown lot last month, which added 599 more spaces, but the long-term plan is to tear down the hotel and replace it with a parking garage that will provide an additional 400-500 spaces in addition to a related rental car facility.
The airport’s current rental car facility sits off-site, about a mile north of the airport.
“Our rental car facility, it needs to be back over here near the terminal and walkable,” Kennedy said.
The hotel purchase gives the airport a head-start on a master plan project to revamp the entire airport. Adding more parking is a key component of that plan as the airport has seen a shift in the needs of passengers.
“In recent years, the airport has changed in the type of airport it is. It went from a hub airport to what's called an origin and destination airport, which means more people were coming from the local area,” Kennedy said.
That means the need for a hotel has been diminished in recent years. Kennedy said there are three hotels on West 150th street that run shuttles to the airport that would offset any need for an on-site hotel.
“The demands on the facility are significantly different than they were just a few years ago,” said Kennedy. “If you go back to when the hub was here, 35-40% of the people that came through the airport never left the building. So, you didn't have a demand for parking.”
The 20-year master plan calls for $2 billion worth of upgrades to the airports aging terminals and overall campus. By the time it’s completed, Kennedy estimated there will be 12-14,000 parking spaces to handle the 13-15 million annual passengers.
“Two-billion worth of construction is going to lead to a lot of good opportunities for people to have jobs, supply material,” Kennedy said. “All those things that big construction projects bring. And then we get the benefit of a good airport.”
Other enhancements will be made to the ticketing and check-in space and security screening areas.
“Do we have old facilities? Absolutely. Do we have problems? Well, absolutely,” Kennedy said. “But all our teams are trying to make the best of what they can until we get better facilities. And it's past due for good facilities here.”
Kennedy estimated it will take between 18-20 months to tear down the hotel and build the new parking facility.
Major construction on the first phases of the master plan isn’t expected to begin until 2025.
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