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City Extends Port Authority’s Lease at JFK Airport to Allow More Time for Redevelopment Project

JFK project rendering (Governor Andrew Cuomo)

Feb. 22, 2021 By Allie Griffin

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday that the city is extending the Port Authority’s lease at JFK Airport another 10 years to allow the agency more time to complete the airport’s revamp in light of the pandemic and budget shortfalls.

The Port Authority, which is the operator of the airport and leases it from the City, is in the midst of overhauling the airport. The $15 billion project, which has been delayed due to COVID-19, is largely dependent on private investors– consisting of airlines, terminal operators and developers– to finance the deal.

The project was expected to begin last year and be completed by 2025 but stalled stemming from the pandemic.

The investors, however, have grown hesitent to finance the project since the delays have reduced the amount of time they would be able to recoup their costs and make a profit. The 10-year extension provides them more time to profit.

The City’s lease extension — from 2050 to 2060 — however comes with a number of conditions, de Blasio said.

As a condition of the extension, the Port Authority is required to uphold an earlier agreement to support the local community surrounding JFK airport — including the creation of more than 20,000 jobs with priority towards hiring people who live nearby, de Blasio said during a press briefing Monday.

The Port Authority must utilize its “best efforts” to hire people from ZIP codes around JFK Airport, followed by all of Queens, and commit to hiring people of color for 30 percent of construction jobs and women for 7 percent of construction jobs.

The agreements were established in 2018 along with the “JFK Redevelopment Community Advisory Council” tasked with completing said agreements. The council is co-chaired by Rep. Gregory Meeks and Queens Borough President Donovan Richards and composed of local stakeholders from communities in Southeast Queens, Southwest Queens, the Rockaways and western portions of Nassau County.

Meeks and Richards joined de Blasio Monday to announce the lease extension.

Meeks said the extension would help get the JFK redevelopment project back on track and help the Queens economy recover from the pandemic.

“In New York, support for the Port Authority and its ongoing redevelopment projects, including at JFK Airport, will be key to a more even economic revitalization after the pandemic,” Meeks said in a statement Monday. “Today’s lease extension announcement will allow for deal restructuring which will ensure the long term sustainability of JFK’s redevelopment.”

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