By Patrick Donachie
The TWA Flight Center at John F. Kennedy International Airport will soon be the home of the airport’s first on-site, full service hotel. Elected officials celebrated the news as they broke ground on the new hotel, located inside the famous terminal originally designed by famed architect Eero Saarinen. Construction is expected to be completed by 2018.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, and representatives from the New York City Economic Development Corporation were on hand for the event, held on Dec. 15. Tyler Morse, the CEO for MCR Development, which is the investment firm tasked with shepherding the redevelopment plan, said he was happy the famed terminal would receive a second life as the hotel, after it was closed to the public in 2001.
“The passion for this incredible building and the outpouring of support for our plan to preserve Saarinen’s masterpiece and permanently reopen it to the public as a 500-room hotel has been astounding,” he said.
The terminal was originally opened in 1962, and was TWA’s terminal at JFK until 2001. It has since been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The redevelopment of the terminal will cost about $265 million in private investment, according to MCR Development. The hotel development will also incorporate a museum that illustrates New York’s place in the “Jet Age.” NYCEDC President Maria Torres-Springer said the development of the hotel would have positive ramifications for foreign tourists and local communities.
“Today we are breathing new life into this landmark building, so it can welcome future generations of visitors,” she said at the groundbreaking. “The creation of this hotel serves as another milestone in the rejuvenation of JFK Airport, and it will complement major investments that Mayor de Blasio and others are making in neighborhoods throughout Southeast Queens such as Downtown Far Rockaway and Jamaica.”
MCR Development said the hotel would consist of two large structures set back on each side of the terminal, ensuring the historic building continues to take center stage after the redesign. MCR noted hotel guests and passengers from the other airport terminals would be able to reach the TWA Hotel by using the Air Train, as well as passenger tubes also designed by Saarinen that connect to Terminal 5, currently in use by JetBlue.
“This groundbreaking builds on our efforts to modernize gateways across the state and we will continue working to drive growth, support thriving regional economies and build 21st century infrastructure of the caliber New York deserves,” Cuomo said.
Reach reporter Patrick Donachie by e-mail at pdona