Chicago's City Council approved an ordinance Thursday allowing a mayoral-endorsed company to
renovate and operate concessions at O'Hare Airport's international terminal.
With a vote of 45-3, the council OK'd Westfield Concession Management's proposal to invest $26 million into the project to transform Terminal 5 into a more extensive concessions operation.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the deal will take Terminal 5 from an "embarrassment" to a revenue-generating facility.
"This agreement will bring 280 new jobs to Chicago and improve the travel experience of Chicagoans and visitors from around the world who fly through O'Hare International Airport," said Emanuel. "The new concessions program in Terminal 5 will reflect our city's world-class shopping and dining experiences, featuring local, national and international brands."
Ald. Pat O'Connor (40th) praised the legislation, calling the entire process "fair and open. Ald. Danny Solis (25th) said it's a deal that should have been done long ago.
Concessions had previously been handled by Chicago Aviation Partners, a partnership between McDonalds and Duty Free International. Daley cronie Jeremiah Joyce was a part owner in that venture, as well as a paid consultant.
That deal, however, ended in 2003 and since then has been operating on a month-to-month basis.
In Thursday's vote, Alds. Ricardo Munoz (22nd), Scott Waguespack (32nd) and freshman Ald. John Arena (45th) opposed the ordinance.
Westfield's plan will require the relocation of security checkpoints. In O'Hare's other terminals, the shops and restaurants are all available to passengers after they pass through security. That's not the case at Terminal 5.
Aldermen said Westfield was chosen over other bids because they represented the best deal based on capital investment, rent to be paid to the airport and their experience and qualifications.
Westfield will pay the city annual rent of $3 per enplanement (revenue providing passengers) in O'Hare's Terminal 5 from the prior calender year or 16 percent of its yearly gross sales, whichever proves greater.
Westfield is owned by the Westfield Group, a company known for its array of shopping centers in Illinois. Their shopping mall locations include Chicago Ridge Shopping Mall in Chicago, Old Orchard in Skokie, Fox Valley in Aurora, Hawthorne Shopping Mall in Vernon Hills and Louis Joliet Shopping Mall in Joliet.
The company also has concessions contracts with other city airports, including Boston-Logan, Orlando, Houston (George Bush), JFK, Miami, Newark Liberty, Ronald Regan National and Washington-Dulles International Airports.