By Bill Parry

LaGuardia Airport had become so dilapidated in recent years that Vice President Joe Biden said it resembled “a third world country” and Gov. Cuomo said “he’s right” before they announced a design competition for a modernization plan. One year later, after several delays, the Port Authority’s board of commissioners voted unanimously last week to select a development team to implement the enormous renovation.

LaGuardia Gateway Partners will replace the airport’s Terminal B with a $3.6 billion facility that will include a central entry portal linking previously unconnected terminals.

“For too long, LaGuardia has been the stepchild of our region’s airports compared to JFK and Newark International,” Port Authority Vice Chairman Scott Rechler said May 28. “Today we took the first step in moving forward with a comprehensive master plan to redevelop LaGuardia into a 21st century, world-class airport that the state of New York deserves.”

Construction of the project will be funded by a public-private partnership, with the private sector contributing more than $2 billion and the Port Authority more than $1 billion. LaGuardia Gateway Partners will be responsible for designing, constructing, operating and maintaining the new facility, which will include premier retail and dining space, a hotel, and a conference-and-business center.

“The team is ready to deliver an exceptional experience for the airport community and the travelers that will pass through the new terminal,” LaGuardia Gateway Partners President and CEO Stewart Steeves said. “We will develop a world-class facility and bring the level of operational expertise needed to deliver the airport New Yorkers deserve, both during construction and throughout the long-term operations.”

Construction on the new 1.3 million-square-foot Terminal B, also known as the Central Terminal building, is expected to start in early 2016 and the renovation may be complete by 2021. The project is welcome news to the advocacy group Global Gateway Alliance.

In a statement, GGA applauded the Port Authority’s selection.

“A new terminal is the linchpin in finally changing LaGuardia’s reputation from third world to world class, accommodating an expected 35 million passengers a year and paving the way for a new era in public-private partnerships that modernize and protect vital infrastructure,” the group said. “The project has already faced delays, so we urge the Port and the winning consortium to finalize the agreement quickly and get redevelopment underway so travelers don’t have to wait one day longer than necessary for a first class experience at LaGuardia.”

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

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