Sea-Tac Airport’s new Rental Car Facility is a building that rightfully claims many superlatives.
Size? More than 2.1 million square feet.
Capacity? Up to 14,000 rental car transactions a day.
Environmental achievements? The new building is the largest consolidated rental car facility in the country to win the U.S. Green Building Council’s Silver certification.
But perhaps the building’s most notable achievement is its cost.
The new RCF, as airport staffers call it, is expected to be some $20 million under budget. The new facility opens for public use a week from today.
The building’s completion was celebrated Wednesday as dignitaries from throughout Seattle, Tacoma and the South Sound gathered to symbolically open the new facility.
The RCF has been four years in the making. Construction began in 2008, halted for several months that year because of turmoil in the finance markets and then resumed in 2009.
Major construction was completed last summer on the five-story structure. It sits on a 23-acre site near the intersection of International Boulevard and Highway 518 northeast of the airport. But tenant improvements to the terminal facilities and testing of its systems consumed several more months.
The soaring new terminal atop four 400,000-square-foot garage floors for rental car storage, next week becomes the single, central location for rental car transactions at the airport. Ten rental car companies have set up counters in the airport-terminal-like lobby. Rental car counters now located in the airport’s arrival level near baggage claim kiosks will close next week. Rental car storage facilities at the airport’s garage will be vacated and the rental fleets shuttled to the new facility. Up to 5,400 cars can be stored there.
Only a single airport car rental company, Rent-a-Wreck, will be located elsewhere. That company’s customers will ride the shuttles from the airport to the rental car facility and then transfer to smaller vans for transit to the Rent-a-Wreck site.
Airport passengers wishing to rent cars will shuttle to the new terminal using a fleet of 29 compressed natural gas-powered buses leaving and arriving from two stations on the airport’s arrival drive, one on the terminal’s north end and the other on the south.
As many as 20 of those buses will be in circulation at one time, serving both the airport terminal and the rental car terminal every few minutes. The buses will be maintained in a new $28 million facility south of the airport.
The Sea-Tac rental car facility follows a tried-and-true model pioneered by other airports such as Dallas Fort-Worth and Sacramento of concentrating rental car activity in a single easy-to-find location away from the terminals’ scarce real estate.
The $419.3 million cost of the terminal, the bus fleet, road improvements and the bus maintenance facility, is being paid for by rental car customers with a $6 daily customer facility charge.
The airport says recession-related material and construction cost declines as well as a tight rein on costs brought the $20-million savings.
The new facility, said airport spokesman Perry Cooper, also allows the rental car companies to reduce their consumption of critical resources.
Eighty-five percent of the water from the 22 new car-washing facilities will be cleaned and recycled. Rain water falling on the building and the site will be detained in a 1.87-million-gallon tank before gradually being released into regional stormwater systems.
Natural ventilation will keep the garage and open stair and escalator spaces cool. White ceiling paint will reflect natural and artificial light. Skylights in wing-shaped “cloud” atop the terminal lobby will provide light to the public waiting areas of the terminal.
The new facility will free up two floors of the airport garage for public parking. The former rental car counter locations in the terminal can be leased to other businesses, and the airport van access area will see less traffic because the smaller buses from the 11 rental car companies will be replaced by the single fleet of larger airport firstname.lastname@example.org