Changes Coming To International Terminal At O’Hare

CHICAGO (WBBM) — The International Terminal at O’Hare Airport is about to get a new look and a new vendor.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Bob Roberts reports, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is preparing to dump a concessionaire with close ties to the retired Mayor Richard M. Daley for a concession management firm owned by shopping mall giant Westfield.

The previous City Council put the 20-year Westfield contract on hold so Emanuel’s team could review it.

Existing concessionaire Chicago Aviation Partners has been working month-to-month under terms of a contract that expired in 2003. Now, Emanuel is going forward with the Westfield deal.

“I have a standard,” Emanuel said. “I start with what is best for the city economically and for the taxpayers. And they have a strong case as it relates to the economics.”

Emanuel said the city would lose $200,000 dollars a month if the contract were re-bid. He said Westfield runs airport concessions successfully in Orlando, Miami, Boston, Washington, D.C., and Newark.

Aldermen frustrated with the $1.15 billion parking meter deal prompted inclusion of a 10-year escape clause. Westfield’s minimum guarantee will increase yearly to match the rate of inflation.

Both Chicago Aviation partners and Westfield have high-powered political backers.

Terminal 5 security checkpoints will be relocated and new concession space built on the secured side of the terminal as part of the deal.

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