JetBlue is an experienced hotelier, having opened a boutique hotel for employees in Orlando, and now it has struck a partnership with MCR Development to open a hotel in the old TWA Terminal at JFK Airport.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the three New York-area airports, is expected to approve JetBlue’s selection at a meeting on Thursday. JetBlue would be a minority investor in the project. The prospect of MCR Development’s work was first reported in April.
MCR Development, which develops and manages hotels, has developed the High Line Hotel in Manhattan; numerous Courtyard by Marriott properties from Abilene, Texas, to Alexandria, Virginia, and several Fairfield Inn & Suites properties, among other brands.
MCR Development would operate the hotel at JFK and, as a minority investor, JetBlue’s role at the hotel hasn’t been determined.
The name of the hotel, which would be opened in 2018, likewise hasn’t been determined. The TWA terminal, which has been closed since the 1960s, would serve as the lobby while the rest of the facility would be set back from the landmark, according to Crane’s New York Business.
Under a public-private partnership between JetBlue, MCR Development and the Port Authority, the property would cost $265 million for its construction and would house 505 rooms, 40,000 square feet of meetings space, and feature up to eight restaurants and an observation deck.
The old TWA Terminal was designed by architect Eero Saarinen.
“We are thrilled the TWA Flight Center will come alive again,” said Rich Smyth, Vice President of Corporate Real Estate, JetBlue. “Saarinen’s aviation icon sits at the front door of our flagship T5 terminal, offering exciting collaboration opportunities that will benefit our customers and crewmembers. As New York’s Hometown Airline, we are proud to be a minority investor in MCR’s plan, which celebrates the landmark’s rich history while returning it to public use. We want to thank Governor Cuomo for his leadership in supporting our long-held belief that the TWA terminal can viably be restored and re-opened.”
The facility would be near JetBlue’s JFK Terminal 5 and the only hotel in the airport.
This would be the second time JetBlue is involved in a hotel endeavor, an unusual feat for an airline. In March, Jetblue opened a boutique hotel in Orlando, Florida. The facility is for employee training and JetBlue has been low-key about its ties to the property, known as The Lodge at OSC, according to USA Today.
New JetBlue employees, whether they are cleaning staff or C-suite types, go through orientation together at the Orlando property. After the sessions they used to disperse to numerous hotels in Orlando but now they stay together in the new facility, Marty St. George, JetBlue’s executive vice president of commercial and planning, told Skift in June.
The JFK hotel, of course, would be open to the public — and available for all airlines to use for their crews.
This is at least the third operator with plans to turn the property into a hotel. In 2013, Standard Hotels announced plans to take over the Flight Center, but talks broke down due to difficulties with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The Port Authority also proved to be too much for the Yotel Group could manage, despite its history building hotels at Heathrow and Gatwick in London, along with Amsterdam Schiphol.