A cross border airport terminal in San Diego took another step toward reality when the San Diego City Council approved an amendment to the Otay Mesa community plan permitting the construction Jan. 10.

The project that entails building a terminal that connects to Rodriguez International Airport in Tijuana has been in the planning stages for about a decade, and championed by a private investment group led by billionaire Sam Zell’s Equity Group Investments of Chicago, as well as the Mexican investment group that operates Tijuana’s airport.

Estimated to cost $78 million, the terminal project also involves the construction of a hotel, a parking area, and some commercial space.

With the council’s unanimous approval, developers still need to obtain federal permits from both the United States and Mexico. The project obtained a presidential permit from the U.S. State Department in 2010.

A representative of the development group told the council that construction on the project could begin this year and be completed in 15 months, according to a city spokeswoman.

— Mike Allen