CB 13 approves JFK terminal lease

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American Airlines received unanimous approval Monday from Community Board 13 to sign a lease extension on its new $1.3 billion Kennedy Airport terminal until 2030.

The Dallas-based carrier, which has already begun construction on the new terminal, wanted to extend its lease until 2030, 15 years after the current Port Authority contract ends with the city.

Doug Rice of the New York City Economic Development Corp. said American Airlines was asking for the right to sign a lease with the city on the 107-acre parcel because of the possibility that the Port Authority might be relieved of its management duty.

Mayor Giuliani has been pressing to have the operation of Kennedy and LaGuardia airports taken away from the Port Authority under a privatization program.

"There is the question of whether the Port Authority will be operating the airport after 2015," said Rice. "So the city is saying we will assume that the land will be in your use."

About 75 community residents showed up at the monthly meeting at the Queens Reformed Church at 94-79 Springfield Blvd. in Queens Village.

By a vote of 22-to-0 the members of Community Board 13 passed the American Airlines proposal, which give the airline a lease extension at JFK airport until 2030 even if the management of the airport changes after 2015.

The terminal, which will be the airport's largest, will serve 14 million passengers a year - an average of 14,000 a day - with 59 gates, according to the airline. The new building will double the number of gates the airline currently provides.

Construction on the 1.9-million-square-foot building began in early November and is expected to be completed by 2006, American Airlines said. It will be the largest and most advanced terminal at JFK and will feature a passenger check-in area large enough to hold Giant Stadium.

"American Airlines wants assurances that after 2015 it will still be able to use the land," Rice said.

Claudia Wagner, a lawyer for American Airlines, said American was working with the New York City Industrial Development Organization to raise the money to build the terminal. Since American plans to float a bond, she said both the bond underwriters and the airline needed to know the terminal would remain in place until the bonds terminate.

Rice said there would be no land-use problems and the land would be used in the future as it was used today. He said the only reconfiguration of the area, if necessary, would be the entrance of the terminal to allow for better movement of passengers.

Gary Pelletier, an American Airlines executive, said the company is hiring local contractors and most of the labor used to build the terminal would come from the southeast Queens area.

American plans to build the terminal in four stages to allow it to continue its operations at JFK. American will replace its two existing terminals and use a 42-acre site behind the present terminals that was acquired for expansion several years ago.

The airline said in a statement that at least 1,000 additional construction jobs will be created by the project.

The Community Board 13 meeting was the second public forum held on the proposed development of three schools on the Creedmoor campus. The first meeting was held last Thursday at the School Board 26 meeting and the next public forum will be held Jan. 31 at 8 p.m. at IS 59 in Springfield Gardens.

Speaking to Board 13, Bernice Siegal, legal counsel for Councilman Sheldon Leffler (D-Hollis) and a resident of Glen Oaks, said the community needs to hear from the school boards and community boards on where the plan stands.

In addition, she said the schools should be under the jurisdiction of one entity not three, which was the main point of contention at the School Board 26 meeting.

"We want to build these schools to excellence, not to mediocrity," she said.

Updated 10:25 am, October 12, 2011
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