Work has started on the conversion of the TWA Flight Center at JFK International Airport, New York, into a world-class 505-room hotel. The terminal has been vacant since 2001, but will now become the airport’s first on-site, full service hotel.
New York-based investment firm MCR Development, the seventh-largest hotel owner-operator in the USA, is behind the initiative, with the city’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, announcing the project at a ground-breaking ceremony last week. Originally opened in 1962 as the Trans World Flight Center, the building was eventually closed as it was deemed too small to handle the airport’s growing traffic. However, it could not be demolished due to its status as a city landmark and inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places, mainly due to its neo-futuristic design by Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen.
The planned renovations will cost US$265m, will revive the interiors and will also include a museum that showcases New York as the birthplace of the Jet Age. Two hotel structures, totaling 505 rooms, will be set back on either side of the terminal, accessible to passengers via the AirTrain and through the Saarinen tubes that link to Terminal 5. There will be 40,000ft² of meeting and event space, a 10,000ft² observation deck for watching the runways, and eight food and beverage outlets. Construction will be completed in 2018.
Governor Cuomo said, “JFK Airport is one of largest international transit hubs in the world and a key driver of New York’s economy. The conversion of the TWA Flight Center into a new state-of-the-art hotel will preserve this iconic landmark while cementing JFK’s status as a crown jewel of aviation. 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 that New York deserves.”
Tyler Morse, CEO of MCR Development, added, “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. We are proud to play a part in Governor Cuomo’s plan to revitalize our region’s airports and we are excited to get to work as we breathe new life into one of the most important buildings in America.”