Iconic terminal gets approval across the board

By Sadef Ali Kully

Community Boards 10, 12 and 13 unanimously approved the $265 rehabilitation and conversion of the TWA Flight Center at JFK International Airport into a 505-room hotel.

The proposed hotel plan would return the landmark to its 1962 glory through a privately funded investment. It features two six-story hotel structures, which would contain 505 rooms standing behind the iconic terminal.

Built by world-renowned architect Eero Saarinen, the TWA Flight Center opened in 1962, ushering in a new era of jet air travel. Unable to support the size of modern aircraft, the terminal was closed in 2001 and has remained dark for the last 14 years.

“We are proud to have the widespread support of the southeast Queens community for our plans to restore the Saarinen Terminal, one of the world’s most famous architectural icons,” Tyler Morse, CEO of MCR Development, said. “When completed, the Flight Center will not only preserve a world-famous, mid-century landmark, but will also provide 3,700 jobs.”

New York-based MCR Development is a hotel owner-operator in the United States responsible for the redevelopment of the TWA Flight Center and in the past the The High Line Hotel in Manhattan.

“We are thrilled to see the TWA Flight Center, which has sat dormant for over a decade, come back to life,” Bryan Block, chairman of Community Board 13, said. “The hotel’s opening will be a proud day for the borough of Queens.”

The terminal was designated a city landmark in 1994 and listed on the national Register of Historic Places and the state Register of Historic Places in 2005.

“Community Board 10 is overwhelmingly supportive of the revitalization of the TWA Flight Center,” Elizabeth Braton, chairwoman of Community Board 10, said. “Millions of tourists who pass through southeast Queens, as well as the thousands of residents that call the area home, will benefit from the hotel and its amenities.”

The development is projected to create 3,700 jobs, including construction jobs. The hotel will have 40,000 square feet of meeting and event space, six to eight food and beverage outlets, an observation deck and museum space dedicated to the Jet Age and mid-century modern design. The project is slated to be completed in 2018.

“The TWA Flight Center brings event space, food establishments, an observation deck and a museum to our corner of Queens, but most importantly, it brings 3,700 permanent and construction jobs,” Adrienne Adams, chairwoman of Community Board 12, said. “We look forward to welcoming a revamped TWA Flight Center to our greater community.”

The city Planning Commission plan certified the hotel conversion plan in November for public review through the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure. After votes came in favor of the project, the proposal was sent to the Queens borough president, who was scheduled to hold a land use hearing on the project this week. She will issue her recommendation at a later date.

Reach Reporter Sadef Ali Kully by e-mail at skull[email protected]local.com or by phone at (718) 260–4546.

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