Spenser Heaps, Deseret News
FILE - Construction work continues on the new Salt Lake City International Airport on Friday, Sept. 22, 2017. Salt Lake City will soon ask for proposals from businesses hoping to grab a spot within the redesigned airport.

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake City will soon ask for proposals from businesses hoping to grab a spot within the redesigned airport.

"This is a really great opportunity for any retail shops and restaurants to throw their hat in the ring, so to speak, and to operate at the airport," said Nancy Volmer, public relations and marketing director for Salt Lake City Department of Airports.

The city will accept proposals for retail, news and gift shops beginning this month and for food and beverage businesses sometime in early May.

Though there isn't yet a set date when the request for proposals will be posted or a deadline for the proposals to be submitted, businesses can keep an eye out on Salt Lake's purchasing webpage, slcgov.com/purchasing, Volmer said.

Concession space in the airport currently fills 75,000 square feet and holds 67 retail stores and restaurants, Volmer said.

The redesign will hold 125,000 square feet of concession space.

Businesses currently operating in the airport will also need to submit proposals, as their contracts will expire, she added.

"The airport is looking for a mix of local, regional and national brands as well as a balance of small and large package leases," she said.

They will also rank businesses based on pricing, hours of operation and service standards and will later meet with those who earn high rankings.

Because of limited space, low turnover and long lease terms, business owners have limited opportunities to join the airport, Volmer said.

Operating a business within an airport is "not for everyone," though, because airports are always open, and employees need background checks and are required go through security every day, she said.

However, due to the high number of national and international visitors, operating within the airport gives brands "great exposure," Volmer explained.

Last year, Salt Lake City International Airport saw more than 24 million visitors, according to statistics published by the airport.

Built in the 1960s, the current facilities have constraints that airport officials have "done a good job of really working around," Volmer said.

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However, it's been difficult for them to design "space necessary for businesses to operate efficiently" and for concessions to be placed closer to gates, she said. The redesign will allow passengers to find shops and restaurants closer to their gates.

"The citizens of Salt Lake are going to end up with one of the best airports in the U.S.," Bill Wyatt, executive director of Salt Lake City's Department of Airports, told the Deseret News in March.

The redesign is estimated to cost about $3.6 billion, Wyatt said. The project will be paid for through the airport's self-sustaining fund.

The first phase of the redesign is expected to be completed in 2020 and the second in 2024.