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NEWS Last modified on September 25, 2015

New York-JFK's TWA Flight Center to be transformed into unique hotel

New York governor, Andrew Cuomo, has approved a long-range lease deal to turn the landmark TWA Flight Center at John F Kennedy Airport into a hotel complex, which will honour the airport’s golden jet age era. 

The transformed facility will also provide "vital on-airport rooms and services for travellers", according to developers, MCR Development.

“This administration has committed to modernising New York’s airports for the 21st century by creating gateways worthy of New York City and ensuring travellers have the services they need,’’ explained Cuomo.

“At the TWA Flight Center, we are able to meet those goals while also preserving its iconic design for passengers to enjoy for decades to come.”

New York–JFK is one of the few US airports without an on-airport hotel.

The $265 million construction project, which is expected to break ground next year, will generate 3,700 jobs – including approximately 2,500 union construction and restoration jobs – and is expected to open in 2018.

Plans for the hotel were first announced by Governor Cuomo in July. 
The project, approved yesterday by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey's Board of Commissioners, calls for a 75-year lease agreement with Flight Center Hotel LLC – a partnership of MCR Development and JetBlue Airways Corporation – to remake the TWA Flight Center and its nearly six-acre site into JFK’s only on-airport hotel.

MCR Development will maintain 95% ownership of the hotel and JetBlue will have 5%.

Flight Center Hotel LLC will invest approximately $265 million to continue renovations of the historical TWA Flight Center, while developing 505 hotel rooms, 40,000 square feet of meeting space, restaurants, a spa and a 10,000-square-foot observation deck.

The complex will feature two six-story hotel towers and a micro-grid energy management system, allowing the building to generate its own power.

Additionally, preservationists will see the curving 1960’s-era stark white concourse with plush-red lounge area, designed by legendary architect Eero Saarinen, remain as it first looked a half-a-century ago following a $20 million renovation by PANYNJ to comply with the building’s historic designation.

Development of an on-airport hotel fulfils a key recommendation provided by the Governor’s Airport Master Plan Advisory Panel for Kennedy Airport’s master plan. 

Along with the developer’s financial commitment, PANYNJ also will invest up to $8 million in a connector to the JetBlue terminal, a parking garage and AirTrain Station to serve the hotel complex. 

PANYNJ's executive director, Pat Foye, said: “We are proud to ensure the TWA Flight Center plays a critical role in JFK Airport’s future, while acknowledging its importance in aviation history. 

"The new hotel will serve the growing needs of our passengers throughout the 21st century, with a touch of the bygone era of glamorous mid-20th Century jet-age travel.” 

JetBlue's vice president of corporate real estate, Rich Smythe, added: "We are thrilled the TWA Flight Center, which sits at the front door of our flagship T5 terminal, will come alive again. 

"Saarinen’s aviation landmark is connected to T5 by its two iconic elevated walkways, offering us an opportunity to extend the JetBlue customer experience directly into the hotel itself. 

"As New York’s hometown airline, we are proud to be a minority investor in MCR's redevelopment plan, which preserves the terminal's historical importance while also returning it to the public for all to enjoy."

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