Transformation Will Create Approximately 3,700 Jobs
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the formal approval of a long-range lease deal to turn the landmark TWA Flight Center at John F. Kennedy Airport into a hotel complex which will honor the airport’s golden jet age era, while providing vital on-airport rooms and services for travelers.
“This administration has committed to modernizing New York’s airports for the 21st century by creating gateways worthy of New York City and ensuring travelers have the services they need,’’ Governor Cuomo said. “At the TWA Flight Center, we are able to meet those goals while also preserving its iconic design for passengers to enjoy for decades to come.”
JFK is one of the few U.S. airports without an on-airport hotel. The $265 million construction project, which is expected to break ground next year, will generate 3,700 jobs – including approximately 2,500 union construction and restoration jobs – and is expected to open in 2018. Plans for the hotel were first announced by Governor Cuomo in July.
The project, approved today by the Port Authority’s Board of Commissioners, calls for a 75-year lease agreement with Flight Center Hotel LLC, a partnership of MCR Development and JetBlue Airways Corporation, to remake the TWA Flight Center and its nearly six-acre site into JFK’s only on-airport hotel. MCR Development will maintain 95 percent ownership of the hotel and JetBlue will have 5 percent.
Flight Center Hotel LLC will invest approximately $265 million to continue renovations of the historical TWA Flight Center, while developing 505 hotel rooms, 40,000 square feet of meeting space, restaurants, a spa and a 10,000-square-foot observation deck. The complex will feature two six-story hotel towers and a micro-grid energy management system, allowing the building to generate its own power.
Additionally, preservationists will see the curving 1960’s-era stark white concourse with plush-red lounge area, designed by legendary architect Eero Saarinen, remain as it first looked a half-a-century ago following a $20 million renovation by the Port Authority to comply with the building’s historic designation.
Development of an on-airport hotel fulfils a key recommendation provided by the Governor’s Airport Master Plan Advisory Panel for Kennedy Airport’s master plan. Along with the developer’s financial commitment, the Port Authority also will invest up to $8 million in a connector to the JetBlue terminal, a parking garage and AirTrain Station to serve the hotel complex.
Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye said, “The Port Authority is proud to ensure the TWA Flight Center plays a critical role in JFK Airport’s future, while acknowledging its importance in aviation history. The new hotel will serve the growing needs of our passengers throughout the 21st century, with a touch of the bygone era of glamorous mid-20th Century jet-age travel.”
MCR Development CEO Tyler Morse said, “We are proud to help advance Governor Cuomo’s plan to modernize our region’s aviation infrastructure by bringing the TWA Flight Center, the most storied symbol of the Jet Age, back to life. Accessible to the general public as well as all airlines from all terminals, the 505-room hotel at the rehabilitated TWA Flight Center will be a tremendous amenity for the entire JFK International Airport. Thank you to Governor Cuomo and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for this incredible opportunity to celebrate and preserve Eero Saarinen’s historic masterpiece while also creating 3,700 construction and permanent jobs and 40,000 square feet of desperately-needed onsite meeting space.”
JetBlue Vice President of Corporate Real Estate Rich Smythe said, "We are thrilled the TWA Flight Center, which sits at the front door of our flagship T5 terminal, will come alive again. Saarinen’s aviation landmark is connected to T5 by its two iconic elevated walkways, offering us an opportunity to extend the JetBlue customer experience directly into the hotel itself. As New York’s Hometown Airline, we are proud to be a minority investor in MCR's redevelopment plan, which preserves the terminal's historical importance while also returning it to the public for all to enjoy. We want to thank MCR for its vision and partnership, and Governor Cuomo and the Port Authority for supporting our long-held belief that the TWA terminal can viably be restored and re-opened.”
Terminal 4 Airlines Consortium Executive Director Francis A. DiMola said, “The Terminal 4 Airlines Consortium looks forward to the historic Flight Center returning to public use and having JFK’s first full-service hotel. With new restaurants, museum space, an observation deck and more, this forward-looking plan will advance JFK as world-class gateway."
Kennedy Airport Airlines Management Council President Rodger Recker said, “KAAMCO looks forward to the historic TWA Flight Center returning to public use and hosting a first class, full service 500 room hotel for the passengers on-airport. KAAMCO believes the hotel and associated conference facilities, retail and restaurants will continue to make JFK a world class airport in partnership with the Port Authority of NYNJ."
Aer Lingus Vice President North America Jack Foley said, “The Saarinen Building should remain an architectural example of the history of JFK and aviation but utilized as part of the future of JFK and aviation as well. To that end within the scope of the preservation of the exterior of building, transforming this area to a hotel and conference facility adjacent to T5 as well as within easy Airtrain reach of all terminals would enhance JFK’s global position and add a key missing element to the current airport infrastructure."
Emirates Divisional Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations, West, Hubert Frach said, “Rehabilitating the TWA Flight Center into a full service hotel with world-class meeting and dining space will create a significant amenity for our customers travelling to New York from around the world. We are excited to see such a visionary development come to JFK Airport."
Further information is available on the developer’s website, Twaflightcenterhotel.com.
The TWA Flight Center opened to critical architectural acclaim in 1962, a year after Saarinen’s death, and served as TWA’s terminal at JFK until 2001. When the building was deemed obsolete as a terminal because it could no longer accommodate today’s passenger volumes or modern aircraft, the Port Authority undertook an intricate renovation to preserve a part of aviation history.
In 1994, the city of New York designated the terminal a historic landmark and in 2005 the National Park Service listed the TWA Flight Center on the National Register of Historic Places. The soaring white landmark building is adjacent to Terminal 5 and is part of JetBlue Airways' JFK operations.
Over the past decade, the building has had a limited role for special events, such as Open House New York public openings, JetBlue conferences and the 50th anniversary celebration of the Beatles 1964 arrival at JFK for the rock band’s first visit to the United States that kicked off Beatlemania and the British Invasion.