Kansas City, Mo. City officials and business groups hope a new consolidated rental car facility at Kansas City International Airport will give visitors an easier arrival - and a positive first impression of the region.
The new facility, which follows facelifts for the airport's three terminals, will "serve as an extension of all the work that is being done to our city's front door," said Rick Hughes, president of the Convention and Visitors Bureau of Greater Kansas City.
The $90 million complex, which will house 10 companies, is set to open May 2 on a former satellite parking lot.
"We believe this facility and our recent terminal renovations will firmly solidify our role as the region's leading airport," said Kansas City Aviation Director Mark VanLoh.
Currently, travelers arriving at the airport must take rental companies' buses to individual check-in centers, most of them in outlying areas.
When the new center opens, people renting cars at the airport will use a single shuttle system - operated by an independent company - to a large underground garage closer to the terminals.
Escalators will take them into the heart of the 135,000-square-foot buiding, which will include plasma screen monitors providing flight information.
Those dropping off rental cars on their way out of the city will take direct buses to the terminals from which their flights depart, rather than taking a circuitous route to all three terminals.
"Most people of Kansas City have never had to rent a car from the airport," VanLoh said, "so they may have no idea what kind of hassle it is right now for visitors, especially if they are trying to return a rental car at night when it's dark."
Each rental agency will have its own parking area and service center at the facility, which has a capacity of 8,000 spaces.
The project, the most recent in a six-year, $410 million facelift that also included construction of an economy parking lot, was paid for by revenue bonds approved in 2000 by Kansas City voters.