By Bill Parry
Phase Two of the $8 billion LaGuardia Airport reconstruction project got underway Tuesday with Gov. Andrew Cuomo taking part in a ground-breaking ceremony after signing a long-term deal with Delta Airlines. Delta will build a new $4 billion state-of-the-art terminal on the eastern portion of the airport.
“It’s going to be a beautiful welcoming front door to New York to 50 million tourists a year and helping the economy of tomorrow, but it is also helping the economy today with good union jobs,” Cuomo said. He guaranteed construction of an AirTrain connecting LaGuardia with Willets Point saying, “there’s no airport that works in a metropolitan area that doesn’t have a one-seat ride to the airport, and it’s about time New York did.”
Cuomo also announced a breakthrough with LaGuardia Gateway Partners, the firm that broke ground last year to build the western portion of the airport. Former NBA superstar Magic Johnson is on board with the project through JLC Infrastructure, a joint venture between Loop Capital and Magic Johnson Enterprises, marking the first time in the state’s history that there will be a Minority- and Women-owned Business Enterprises investing equity in a public-private construction project.
“This marks the first time in New York State history that any governor has said you must have an MWBE equity partner in a project of this size and scale,” National Urban League President and CEO Marc Morial said. “By welcoming Loop Capital and Magic Johnson Enterprises as a full partner and owner — and not just contracting for work or services — the governor has sent a message loud and clear that this state demands MWBEs have the opportunity to not only partner and compete on the front lines, but also in the boardroom.”
U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) said the reconstruction project would have a profound impact across the region.
“By leveraging private dollars for New York’s infrastructure, this airport is a testament to the power of public-private partnerships,” Meeks said. “Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York is raising the bar for strategic, pioneering infrastructure investments that will improve quality of life and drive economic growth long into the future.”
State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) is expecting the project to have a profound impact on the communities surrounding LaGuardia.
“This historic ground-breaking at the Delta facilities will bring about 16,000 new direct union jobs to our local economy,” Peralta said. “The redevelopment of LaGuardia Airport not only modernizes our infrastructure, but it also modernizes our public contract opportunities. For far too long, minority and women-owned business enterprises were the subject of discrimination when it came to public contracts. Now, however, the multibillion-dollar project will meet the 30 percent statewide goal set by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr