Denver’s 34-year deal at DIA might be the city’s first big public-private partnership, but don’t expect it to be the last

Denver International Airport's proposed $1.8 billion ...

Denver International Airport’s proposed $1.8 billion terminal deal is poised to launch the city into a different kind of contracting that hands over some control of a publicly owned space to private interests for decades.

Get ready: That complex, 34-year contract could be a harbinger of things to come. Mayor Michael Hancock and other city leaders see promise in public-private partnerships, which infuse both private money and management into public projects, as they prepare to build out the National Western Center with large new event venues, expand the convention center and plot big changes to the Denver Performing Arts Complex.

But as the City Council prepares for a vote Monday night on DIA’s proposed arrangement with a consortium led by a large Spanish company, some members express misgivings about more such deals. Their skepticism already has paused a consulting contract that’s seen as crucial to setting up a city office dedicated to shepherding such projects in the future.

A big concern in that camp is that early plans call for end the elected council’s default role as final arbiter over those public-private partnership contracts, also called P3s.

Instead, a draft framework calls for formal council involvement in setting parameters before negotiations start. That would give its members more of a say up front — while also providing more certainty for the private partners that the deal would go through with administrative approval.

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Source:: The Denver Post

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