Kenai airport terminal site to get seasonal tenant

Posted: Wednesday, January 24, 2001

The small space in the Kenai Municipal Airport terminal once occupied by Alaska's Best Travel will be home to a small sporting goods and sundries shop, but for summers only.

The Kenai City Council approved the idea of a seasonal tenant, but not without considerable debate.

The small store, Hooks and Books, is the idea of Virginia and James Kanas, owners of K-Beach Kabins on Kalifornsky Beach Road.

"My vision is sporting goods and things that are easy to carry on (a plane)," Virginia Kanas said.

She said she would also like to book guests into the K-Beach Kabins, the advertising of which didn't sit well with council member Jim Bookey.

"If (the space) is used to advertise K-Beach Kabins, then it should be open to bid," he said.

Kanas replied that she does not plan to use large signs, which Airport Manager Becky Cronkhite said would not conflict with the exclusive advertising contract the airport has with another company.

Bookey pressed the idea of finding a tenant for the space through a bidding process.

"No one knows this space is available," he said. "Just because someone has a good idea doesn't mean we should give them an advantage."

Cronkhite said she has gotten several calls regarding the space since it went vacant late last year.

"The only other inquiries are for espresso stands, but Wings (Cafe) has an exclusive deal until February 2002," she said.

Council member Bill Frazer said there was no point in going to competitive bid if there are no other viable ideas.

Council member Pat Porter asked if Alaska's Best Travel was forced to bid on its current space in the terminal, or on the space it once occupied, to which Cronkhite replied no.

Council member Duane Bannock said he had some concern over Kanas wanting only the summer "gravy" season, but complimented her on her research and hard work.

"I think we should do everything we can do to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit," he said.

Kanas replied that if she thinks she can make a go of it, she would like to explore extending her lease year-round.

Kanas will pay $246 a month, or $1.65 per square foot for the 150- square-foot space, and will move in May 15.

She said the store would cater to sporting enthusiast with items such as hunting and fishing licenses, maps and fish boxes, as well as T-shirts, magazines, books and disposable cameras, film and batteries.

The council approved the lease on a 6-1 vote, with Bookey dissenting.

In other news from Wednesday's council meeting, the council also approved a plan by Dan Apted, owner of Custom CPU of Soldotna, to place up to nine pay Internet stations in the airport terminal.

Apted said the computers would operate on currency or credit card, and the set up would include one printer. Apted said he also would install a security camera system, an idea Cronkhite liked.

Location of the terminals was a sticking point for Porter.

"I do not agree with terminals in front of windows," she said. "I cannot support this if (the terminals) are where passengers actually hang out."

Apted countered that putting them in or near the high traffic areas was his goal.

"But where they hang out is where they are most likely to put dollars into them," he said. "But I'll take what I can get."

Bookey agreed that three of the locations Apted indicated were his top choices were unacceptable. They were all situated around the lounge between the departure and arrival gates. Other locations he suggested were closer to Wings Cafe. The council directed Cronkhite to keep them updated on where the terminals go.

Apted currently operates Internet terminals inside Wings, but he said it was more to prove the technology so it will be ready for placing in the passenger areas of the terminal. He said the terminals in Wings have not been successful yet, since he has not advertised their presence.

Bookey renewed his objection to the city approving a lease without it going out to bid. But the council approved the permit 5-2, with Bookey and Porter objecting.

In other airport news, the council finally got a look at what the terminal's remodeling will look like, as architect Matthew Vogel of RIM Architects in Anchorage unveiled schematics of furniture, floor plans and samples of the new carpet and tile.

The new design has heavy rubber mats to clean dirty shoes where people enter the terminal, which blends into carpet tiles in lower traffic areas and ceramic tile in high-traffic areas, such as near the ticket counter.

The advantage of this design, Cronkhite said, was any worn carpet tile could be individually replaced, while the walk-off mats near the entrance and the ceramic tiles could last 20 years.

The price tag for the remodel, including furniture, is around $192,000.

"I'm choking on $192,000," Bannock said.

Bookey countered that for thousands of people, the first thing they see in Kenai is the airport terminal.

"I'm willing to go with this and give it a try," he said.

The council approved allowing the administration to go ahead with the bidding process of doing the work on a 6-1 vote, with Bannock dissenting.

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