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TWA Terminal hotel celebrates groundbreaking with a new rendering

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Eero Saarinen’s masterpiece is the center of the redevelopment

Max Touhey

After years of speculation and false starts, the redevelopment of the TWA Terminal into a fancy hotel is finally beginning: This morning, former TWA employees, elected officials (including Queens borough president Melinda Katz), developer MCR, and even Governor Andrew Cuomo gathered inside Eero Saarinen’s space age headhouse to celebrate the groundbreaking of the new TWA Hotel.

Construction had actually already begun on the space, but today’s event marks a milestone for the redevelopment. The idea of incorporating Saarinen’s building into a larger hotel was first floated quite some time ago, with developers like Andre Balazs and Donald Trump (yes, really) expressing interest in working on the project. But a formal plan didn’t come together until 2015, when High Line Hotel developer MCR Development (in partnership with JetBlue) signed a 75-year lease with the state for the hotel.

MCR’s plans call for creating two crescent-shaped buildings that will hold 505 rooms total on either side of Saarinen’s historic headhouse. Beyer Blinder Belle is the architect of record, and Governor Cuomo’s office released a new rendering of what the new structures will look like.

According to a press release, the new structures are “designed to defer to the historic landmark,” which seems to translate into play a somewhat bland, supporting role to the midcentury masterpiece.

In addition to bringing a bunch of new hotel rooms to the airport, the TWA Hotel will have eight restaurants (including a food hall featuring Brooklyn and Queens vendors), conference rooms, and a cocktail bar and nightclub within Saarinen’s building. Once completed, the hotel will be the first one within the JFK Airport complex.

At this morning’s presser, Cuomo linked the TWA redevelopment to the state’s overall plan for investments in infrastructure, namechecking projects like the revamps of Penn Station and LaGuardia Airport and the rebuilding of the Tappan Zee bridge as proof of the state’s commitment to improving how New Yorkers get around.

Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

“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,” he said in a statement. “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.”

Now to get it completed: construction is due to wrap up in 2018, with the hotel opening soon thereafter.

And now, some more TWA Terminal goodness courtesy Max Touhey: