A proposal to build a posh private lounge at Los Angeles International Airport for Southern California's glitterati was approved Thursday in a move that officials hope will reduce disturbances by paparazzi, looky-loos and autograph-seekers in the busy central terminal area.
The Board of Airport Commissioners voted unanimously in favor of the exclusive facility, which would cater to wealthy Hollywood celebrities, sports figures, diplomats and anyone else seeking privacy while waiting for their flights or after arriving at LAX.
Airport officials say the lounge will be located in a converted cargo facility at 6851 West Imperial Highway, next to the airport's southernmost runway. The proposed project includes a 43,750-square-foot building and a 13,840-square-foot parking lot.
For fees as high as $1,800 per trip, travelers would be able to drive into a secure parking and drop-off area, avoiding the main terminals, which can be crowded with people and jammed with traffic.
Once inside, they could relax in the lounge's private suites until their boarding times, when shuttles would take them to their passenger gates in the central terminal area.
Similar facilities exist at international airports in Amsterdam; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; London; Moscow; Paris; Frankfurt, Germany; Madrid and other major cities.
Airport officials say the LAX lounge will be built and operated by Gavin de Becker and Associates, an L.A.-based security firm with an elite clientele. The firm plans to open the lounge in six to eight months, first in a temporary facility while the permanent site is prepared.
The company would be responsible for investing at least $3 million to renovate the property and manage the lounge during the 10-year lease. It also must make all necessary arrangements with airlines, the federal Transportation Security Administration and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Officials estimate that Los Angeles World Airports, the operator of LAX, would earn about $3.75 million in the first year and $34 million during the entire lease period.
In addition to new revenue, Deborah Ale Flint, the executive director of the city's airport department, told board members that the new lounge could prevent many of the disturbances encountered by celebrities when they fly out of the central terminal area.
The exclusive facility is the latest development in a long list of initiatives by airlines and Los Angeles World Airports to attract well-heeled business executives and celebrities to LAX, the nation's second-busiest airport.
Some of the amenities have included exclusive lounges in several passenger terminals, airline meals cooked by celebrity chefs, chauffeur-driven Cadillacs and VIP entrances and passageways.
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