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By Sadef Ali Kully

Borough President Melinda Katz, heads of community boards and City Council members voted unanimously Tuesday in favor of the application’s lease for the project to revitalize the iconic TWA Flight Center at JFK Airport, which is slated to start by summer of this year.

The vote at Borough Hall in Kew Gardens will allow the city Economic Development Corporation to continue its lease of the property from the year 2050 until 2119.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey currently has a lease to operate JFK Airport which expires in 2050. The application would allow the lease to continue in the event the PANYNJ does not renew the lease for JFK Airport beyond 2050, and would enable the city to lease the property directly to Flight Center Hotel, LLC or through another successor operator of the airport property, according to the Borough President’s office.

The development of the TWA Flight Center Hotel is being undertaken by a public-private partnership between MCR Development, JetBlue and the PANYNJ, which owns the public land on which the project is located.

The project includes two hotels surrounding the terminal designed by the famed Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen. He is noted for his neo-futuristic style of modern, sweeping structural curves.

In January, Community Boards 10, 12, and 13 approved the conversion of the TWA terminal into a 505-room hotel by MCR Development, the developer and lead investor. MCR owns 89 hotels in 23 states, including the adaptive reuse project of the High Line Hotel in Manhattan. Turner Construction, a Manhattan-based company, is the building contractor.

The plan for the site includes building two six-story hotel structures that will house 505 rooms behind the TWA Flight Center. It also includes 40,000 square feet of meeting and event space, restaurants, an observation deck and museum space dedicated to the Jet Age and midcentury modern design.

The public land-use review procedure started in November last year and will now go through the City Council and Department of City Planning for further approval before construction is started, according to NYCEDC.

“It will take another 90 days before anything can happen,” Hardy Adasko, NYCEDC senior vice president of planning, said before the vote at Borough Hall.

The TWA Flight Center, which opened in 1962, ushered in a new era of jet air travel. However, the terminal was unable to accommodate new, larger aircraft and closed in 2001. It has remained untouched since then. It was designated a New York City landmark in 1994 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the New York State Register of Historic Places in 2005.

Community board members raised concerns before the vote on issues such as employment opportunities for residents in the surrounding neighborhoods.

“Will there be high-level to mid-level jobs available for people in the community?” Community Board 12 Chairwoman Adrienne Adams asked.

Katz said the hotel is slated to open in 2018 and expected to create over 3,000 jobs during the construction period. The hotel is projected to generate 500 permanent jobs, which will be advertised through job fairs held specifically for residents.

Reach Reporter Sadef Ali Kully by e-mail at skully@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4546.

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