New Orleans' Armstrong International Airport set passenger record in 2015 _lowres

More than 11.1 million travelers went through Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport in 2016, up nearly 4 percent from the year before, and a new record.

A three-star hotel with at least 140 rooms is being envisioned for a 23,000-square-foot site adjacent to the North Terminal facility under construction at Louis Armstrong International Airport.

The city and New Orleans Aviation Board have issued a request for proposals for designing, building and operating a nationally branded hotel that’s rated three or more stars and expected to cost at least $17 million.

For developers, the project will come at a price: Officials are “seeking the highest proposal submitted which yields the greatest benefits to the public in services and financial return to it by a proposer,” according to the 153-page request filed last week.

The aviation board, which operates the airport, is requesting at least $103,433 in annual rent, based on a fair market value estimate of $4.50 per square foot, and a share of concession sales that’s at least $450,000 annually. The lease would run for 30 years with two, 10-year optional renewals.

The proposals will be scored on several factors, with the aviation board’s proposed cut of gross receipts and the hotel’s proposed design and construction schedule weighed at 30 percent each. Other factors will consider the development team’s experience, 20 percent, and its commitment to supporting contract work and airport concession opportunities for disadvantaged businesses, 10 percent each.

Submissions are due Sept. 16. The following month, a selection committee will meet, conduct interviews and make a final selection before the aviation board issues its recommendation. The city council will have the final say, which may happen by December.

City officials expect that the hotel could be operating by October 2018, when the 760,500-square-foot North Terminal is set to open. The facility will have 30 gates and capacity to expand to 42.

The terminal’s design “embraces the rich natural and cultural history of New Orleans; the mighty Mississippi, the sultry bayous, rich cuisine, live music, the joie de vivre of its citizens,” the request says.

Follow Richard Thompson on Twitter, @rthompsonMSY.