The new $180-million Rental Car Center at San Diego International Airport will not only be large in scope; it will also be energy-efficient. When complete in 2014, the facility will comprise 1.7-million sq ft and combine 12 different car rental agencies in one mega-structure.

Photo Courtesy of Sundt Construction
Work is underway on the new $180-million Rental Car Center at San Diego International Airport.

“There is a real sustainability aspect to it,” says Brad Kirsch, preconstruction manager for Sundt Construction, which is building the project in a joint venture with Austin Commercial.

Kirsch says by eliminating the redundancy of shuttles going back and forth to various car rental agency locations and all the travel between different maintenance and fueling stations, the new facility can reduce energy waste and pollution by putting everything under one roof.

Jon Wald, Southern California regional director for Sundt, says more and more major airports around the country have been moving in the direction of creating consolidated rental car centers.

“It’s a movement that seeks to put all the rental car agencies in one location and also helps to reduce the overall traffic that takes place at an airport, which can be a really big problem,” says Wald. “Everything that happens in contained within this single structure. The only thing that happens outside is the shuttle buses that pickup and returns passengers.”

Presently, rental agencies at San Diego Airport are spread along Pacific Coast Highway and Harbor Drive, and each provides its own shuttle service for customers.

Located on the north side of Lindbergh Field, the new four-level structure will include a main car rental center, with customer service lobby, and an area where customers will be dropped off by shuttles to access any of the 12 different rental companies and three levels of parking. The building will also house areas for fueling, car washing and maintenance.

“The idea is to eliminate the need for on-grade parking that a lot of airports have,” says Wald.

Kirsch says the facility, which is being designed by Demattei-Wong Architecture, will be more attractive than a typical garage. “The structure will have higher end finishes, everything will be painted out, the lighting will be brighter, and there will be a lot more signage,” he says.

But before the airport can show off its new facility, Sundt has to make sure the work gets done on time.