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DALLAS-Eyeing an $86-million annual pro forma, the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport board has signed 10-year leases with 49 of 60 vendors planned for two retail villages, totaling 80,000 sf, in the under-construction, two-million-sf Terminal D. Tenant finish-out will begin in February 2005 so the retail component will be ready to go when the new US customs gateway opens for trade in July.

“It is the biggest award to date, outside the construction,” Ken Capps, DFW airport’s vice president, said Friday at the board’s special meeting. The airport team will look again at the hundreds of applications that didn’t make the first cut to see if the 11 openings can be filled without taking the space back to market.

“We don’t believe we have enough time to go back out,” DFW Airport’s CEO Jeff Fegan said. He told the board the plan right now is to try to repackage existing proposals to fill slots, adding he’s uncertain if location, concept or minimum guarantee resulted in 11 unfilled spaces.

Pat Gleason, vice president of airport concessions, told GlobeSt.com that the per sf rate was pro forma-based, but works out to roughly $100 per sf. During the meeting, he told the packed room that gross annual sales from the four terminals will be $175 million, with $86 million projected to come from Terminal D in its first operating year. Merchandise can’t be priced any higher than 10% of the street price, according to a board mandate.

The 49 vendors will pay close to $8.2 million in rent, based on percentages of their projected pro forma. The rent percentages range from 6.25% for three currency exchange stores, with a first-year pro forma of nearly $1.4 million, to 20% for a pair of duty-free shops, projected to generate $2.3 million in tandem with the operator’s Bachendorf’s Fine Jewelry location with an 11% rent ratio.

The duty-free and jewelry operator, Buckaroo Joint Venture, was the only one meeting opposition for board clearance. Members Ricardo Mendrano and Jerry Haynes voted against the JV, citing concerns about allegations that a Buckaroo partner had an Atlanta airport lease revoked.

After the meeting, Anita Nosnik, the Dallas-based partner of Buckaroo JV, explained to GlobeSt.com that the allegation surfaced as a result of in-fighting among vendors for the Atlanta contracts. “There is a lot of jealousy and everyone wants the building [space],” she said. “They started fighting, but I don’t believe it was revoked.” Nosnik says the partner under fire is Dfass Inc. of Atlanta, which owns 51% of the Buckaroo JV.

Nosnik said the JV was formed to set up Texas-theme, duty-free shops “made for the DFW airport.” The theme teams high-end western wear from Luskey’s in Fort Worth with other duty-free items to meet the board’s requirement “to make it different,” she said.

The board projects 11 million passengers will use the DFW gateway in the first operating year. The goal was to create a diverse retail mix of locally based and national vendors from Dallas and Fort Worth, keeping the ratio as evenly divided as possible between the pair of rival cities to erase concerns like those that surfaced a decade ago when “Cowtown” came out on the short end.

The approved list shows “a tremendous balance of both cities, both counties, ” Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief, said at the meeting. “ It represents a lot of work and sensitivity.”

Terminal D’s approved list consists of 26 food and beverage locations, 13 traditional retail shops, seven newsstands, three duty-free stores and a trio of currency exchange sites. Local operators represent 77% of the roster, including 15 firms with units in DFW’s other three terminals and eight that are new JVs for existing concessionaires. Women- and minority-owned vendors, with more than a 35% vested interest, make up 93% of the roster. The selection process took eight months, but the search got underway more than a year ago.

Local names include MallaSadi Men’s Boutique, Chammps Sports Bar, La Duni Latin Kitchen, Cool River Cafe, Blue Mesa Cafe, Reata Grill, Cantina Laredro, Cousins Bar-B-Q, Railhead Smokehouse BBQ, La Bodega Winery and DFW TravelMart, which became the world’s first airport convenience store when it opened earlier this year in the airport’s other terminals.

“Our new International Terminal D will not only be the most technologically advanced and customer friendly terminal on the planet,” Max Wells, DFW board chairman, said in a press release, “it will also be a paradise for shoppers and diners…to become the premier international gateway for the US…that will make a first, lasting and positive impression of our region for millions of international visitors.”

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