BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
Gov. Andrew Cuomo held a groundbreaking on Tuesday for the beginning of construction on Delta Airlines’ new $4 billion facility at LaGuardia Airport, signed a new long-term lease for the airline and announced that a former sports star would invest in the airport’s upgrade.
The new facility would provide LaGuardia travelers with state-of-the-art amenities and an AirTrain. Its investors include LaGuardia Gateway Partners (LGP), Loop Capital Markets LLC and Magic Johnson Enterprises, which is an infrastructure firm for which the former basketball star is the CEO. The project also marks the first time in New York State that a Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprises (MWBE) firm has invested in a public-private construction.
“LaGuardia is a pillar of New York’s transportation network and a key driver of economic growth, but for too long the airport has been unworthy of New York State,” Cuomo said. “The groundbreaking at Delta’s facilities represents another step forward as we build an entirely new airport at LaGuardia. Together with our private- sector partners, we are making rapid progress to create the world-class gateway to the Empire State that New Yorkers deserve.”
It had previously been announced that the western half of LaGuardia Airport, which includes its roadways, were under construction, with the first new gates scheduled to open next year. However, with Delta’s investment, the eastern half of the airport has officially broken ground and is projected to be ready by the time the new airport debuts in 2021.
“Today, we took another major step in the transformative project that will land LaGuardia Airport firmly into the 21st century,” said state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-Elmhurst). “This historic groundbreaking at the Delta facilities will bring about 16,000 new direct union jobs to our local economy. The redevelopment of LaGuardia Airport not only modernizes our infrastructure, but it also modernizes our public contract opportunities. For far too long, minority-and women-owned business enterprises were the subject of discrimination when it came to public contracts. Now, however, the multi billion-dollar project will meet the 30 percent MWBE statewide goal set by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.”
During Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State address, he vowed to increase MWBE certification by an additional 2,000 businesses. With this new project, which is projected to provide thousands of jobs, Cuomo’s said that the state is on track to meet that goal.
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, who joined Cuomo for the groundbreaking, called the project “an important juncture here in Queens.”
“Today’s groundbreaking is a significant milestone in the transformation underway at LaGuardia Airport into a state-of-the-art, unified entry portal befitting the international capital of the world,” said Katz.
The upgraded airport will be closer to the Grand Central Parkway, increasing airport taxiways and reducing airport ground delays. In addition, there will be better passenger navigation, more space for foot traffic and additional space for security check-in.