SFO ready for hotels again 

Amid a rebounding hotel economy that slumped dramatically after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, San Francisco International Airport wants to once again welcome a hotel on its property.

A 450-room, on-site hotel is listed on the airport’s five-year capital plan, which officials want to start or complete between 2007 and 2012. A hotel remained a white whale for years after the hotel market dipped, but now that the economy is rebounding, officials say the time may be right.

Cities with hotels surrounding the airport, including Burlingame, Millbrae and South San Francisco, report a steady yearly increase in so-called transient-occupancy taxes, which cities collect from hotels on a per-occupied-room basis.

Construction is scheduled to begin soon on some new hotels, such as a few planned on the Clarion Hotel property in Millbrae.

SFO spokesman Mike McCarron said the airport is now "putting feelers out" to a number of hotel operators.

A Hilton hotel was on SFO property for years until the late 1990s, when it was razed to make room for the new freeway onramps and offramps now extending from the International Terminal, McCarron said.

San Mateo County Supervisor Mark Church, whose district includes SFO, said the county collected more than $1 million in transient-occupancy taxes from the hotel when it was operating. Though owned and operated by the city and county of San Francisco, the airport lies on unincorporated San Mateo County land.

"A new hotel would be a great asset to thelocal economy, in addition to being a great asset for the traveling public," Church said.

A number of major airports nationwide have on-site hotels, including O’Hare International Airport in Chicago and John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.

At JFK, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey spokesman Pasquale DiFulco said the relationship is simply like that of a landlord and renter.

Still others, such as Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport, have no plans for hotel expansion. San Jose International spokesman Rich Dressler said that while there were plans for a hotel written into an airport master plan drafted some five or six years ago, officials don’t see much need for one right now.


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