By Naeisha Rose
“A Whole New LaGuardia,” an $8 billion redevelopment plan for the East Elmhurst airport, is soaring to new heights with the opening of its first new concourse on Saturday, according to his office.
The concourse at Terminal B has 11 new gates with several state-of-the-art amenities helps to usher the 79-year-old airport into the 21st century, according to the Nov. 29 announcement.
“The opening of the first new concourse and gates at Terminal B marks another significant milestone in the transformation of LaGuardia Airport into a modern, global gateway that is worthy of the State of New York,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. “While leaders in Washington only talk about investing in infrastructure, in New York we are actually getting it done, and now travelers from across the world will start to see and experience a whole new LaGuardia.”
The gate areas are spacious at 250,000 square-feet and include New York-Inspired dining and retail, according to Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul.
“The transformation of LaGuardia Airport is part of New York’s efforts to modernize our airports and improve the travel experience,” Hochul said. “The opening of the new gates at LaGuardia will bring additional dining and retail options highlighting the great local products New York has to offer.”
There will be more than a dozen concessions, and the restaurant and retail options include Shake Shack, La Chula, Osteria Fusco, Kingside, Irving Farm Coffee, the FAO Schwarz toy store, McNally Jackson, an independent bookseller, and District Market, which includes “Made in Queens” products through a partnership with the Queens Economic Development Corporation, according to Cuomo’s office.
“The new gates will not only ease passenger travel, but they will also offer the amenities that all visitors have come to expect at international airports today,” Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said.
The complex multi-phase construction plan at the airport was designed to accommodate LaGuardia’s approximately 30 million passengers annually, and new gates are built into a unified terminal system as old ones are demolished in order to maintain the capacity without reducing service, according to Cuomo’s office.
The concourse at Terminal B has 55-feet high ceiling windows, charging stations at gate seating areas, free high-speed unlimited wi-fi for travelers to surf or stream the internet, a children’s play space, a private nursing room, modern restrooms and an indoor park with real trees, landscaping and benches, according to Cuomo’s office.
“These upgrades to LaGuardia Airport will make a real difference in the lives of New Yorkers and provide a world-class experience to those who travel to our state,” said Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry.
Nearly 260 people have been hired to work at Terminal B, of which 50 percent are Queens residents, according to Cuomo’s office. Over 750 contracts worth $1 billion were issued to minority-and women-owned businesses, and the redevelopment — which is to be completed by 2021 — is estimated to generate $10 billion in economic activity and $2.5 billion in wages over the life of the project.
“LaGuardia Airport is an essential component of New York’s economy and visitors’ first impression of Queens. By transforming this gateway to the city and state into a world-class airport, we are providing a top-notch experience for anyone traveling to New York for business or pleasure,” said Congressman Joe Crowley.
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose