LOS ANGELES – After several delays, a divided Board of Referred Powers approved on Tuesday three retail concession contracts at Los Angeles International Airport, including one for a company that lost in the the bidding process.

The board plans to meet again next week to consider awarding fiercely contested food and beverage concession contracts.

“I am delighted to have made this much progress,” Los Angeles World Airports Executive Director Gina Marie Lindsey said.

Airport officials began soliciting bids for new contracts in May 2009.

The existing contracts expire at the end of this year.

According to Lindsey, the 10-year retail concession contracts approved would bring new vendors to Terminals 4, 5, 7 and 9, and produce approximately $6.2 million in revenue in the first year.

The board–which consists of five City Council members–voted 4-1 on each deal, with Councilman Tony Cardenas dissenting.

According to Lindsey, final approval still has to come from the full City Council.

Airport officials had recommended awarding the first retail concession contract to Areas USA LAX Retail, Inc. but Councilman Bernard Parks called for replacing it with another vendor at the last minute.

Hudson-Magic Johnson Enterprises and Concourse Ventures finished second in the bidding process but Parks said airport officials should have given more weight to the fact that local business owners and minorities were among those running the company.

Those owners include basketball legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson.

“I think the case made by Hudson as being the most qualified, and also having local ownership, is one that I think is overwhelmingly important,” Parks said.

Parks later told reporters, “It goes hand in hand with what we did last week about preference for local hire. This company went a step well beyond what was expected. They made equity partners in local business people.”

Parks stood with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa last week in calling for an ordinance that would give local businesses preferential treatment with bidding for contracts with the city.

The other two retail concessions contracts approved went to LAX Retail Magic 2 JV and LAX Retail Magic 3-4 JV.

Eduardo Uribe, Areas’ vice president for business development, said “We are obviously disappointed that the Board of Referred Powers has chosen to ignore the airport staff’s recommendation after a lengthy and thorough process, and to eliminate competition by awarding all retail packages to one proposer.”

“We look forward to being awarded the food and beverage packages for which we were also recommended in a fair competition.”

Christina Villacorte | City News Service