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HomeAviationPort Authority of New York and New Jersey, URW and American start construction for $125 million JFK T8 commercial redevelopment

Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, URW and American start construction for $125 million JFK T8 commercial redevelopment


The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, with American Airlines and partners, initiates the commercial redevelopment of JFK’s Terminal 8, enhancing the travel experience with local art and expanded facilities.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, in partnership with American Airlines, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (URW) Airports, and Holt Construction, marked the start of construction for the transformation of the commercial redevelopment program at John F. Kennedy International Airport’s (JFK) Terminal 8. A seasonal artist showcase within the terminal, “A Traveling Dream,” also debuted as a celebration of the depth and vibrancy of the airport’s host community, Jamaica, and greater Queens through local art.

The $125 million commercial redevelopment program by JFK T8 Innovation Partners, a joint venture led by URW and equity partner, Phoenix Infrastructure Group, a minority-owned business enterprise (MBE)-certified investment firm, will transform the customer experience at the terminal with a complete redesign and expansion of the concessions program, including new dining, retail, duty free shopping, performance space, and new digitally enabled experiences for customers of American and its partner airlines. The commercial redevelopment follows the $400 million expansion of Terminal 8. Completed in November 2022, the expansion and modernization of Terminal 8 is a component of the Port Authority’s $19 billion redevelopment of JFK, which prioritizes world-class dining and retail alongside inspiring public art in every new or modernized terminal.

URW collaborated with a Queens-based artist studio, Vaughn Bentley Creative, to transform otherwise utilitarian construction barricades into a massive canvas to promote the vibrant local arts community and showcase art that will create a sense of place unique to the airport’s home borough. Vaughn Bentley Creative was chosen for its unique ideas for leveraging and maximizing the community’s talent.

Terminal 8

Terminal 8 construction kickoff.

Six groups of artists were curated from more than 130 submissions reviewed by a committee with members representing the Port Authority, American Airlines and URW. Four Queens-based artists were selected and received a stipend to produce their work for the inaugural exhibit. Local artists will have additional opportunities to show their art in future showcases throughout the terminal. The finished terminal also includes plans for a year-round permanent artist showcase.

The concept, A Traveling Dream, features dandelions signifying resilience, expressions of joy, hope for the future, and the spirit of sweet nostalgia. The exhibit will be open to ticketed passengers through the summer. The barricade was installed by Visual Citi, a locally owned minority-woman owned business enterprise (MBE) and PANYNJ disadvantaged business enterprise (DBE) company offering full-service signage, printing and fabrication services. Established in 2004 by Samina Devjiyani and Abbas Devjiyani in their Queens apartment, Visual Citi has rapidly expanded and grown into an impressive operation. It now occupies a 100,000 square-foot facility in Lindenhurst, N.Y., and employs more than 120 individuals.

“A reimagined commercial program paired with inspiring public art will elevate the passenger experience at Terminal 8, as part of our $19 billion transformation of JFK Airport,” said Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton. “Across JFK, we are focused on creating a sense of place unique to New York with locally-owned concessions operating alongside national brands and public art that reflects the culture and traditions of the communities around the airport.”

“This significant investment in creating world class and locally inspired dining and retail at Terminal 8 is essential to our successful effort to raise the bar for passenger service at JFK,” said Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole. “The commercial redevelopment and commitment to public art at Terminal 8 is a critical step toward achieving the Port Authority’s vision for a new JFK Airport that will once again be ranked as one of the best airports in the world.”

“The start of the construction phase marks an important milestone in the transformation of the Terminal 8 experience for American Airlines and its partners’ customers,” said Dany Nasr, CEO of URW Airports. “We’re partnering across Queens to deliver every aspect of this exciting project, and we are delighted to showcase amazing local born-and-bred Queens talent as construction kicks off. This is only the start of a platform that celebrates this community’s vibrant diversity and culture and connects with and supports our many neighborhoods.”

“Beginning the construction of our expanded concessions is an exciting step to continue enhancing the customer experience at Terminal 8,” said Amanda Zhang, American Airlines’ vice president of airport affairs and facilities. “The unique showcase is an excellent way to celebrate the critical partnership and contributions of our local and minority owned business enterprise partners. On behalf of American, thank you to the many artists who curated this exhibit for our customers to enjoy during the busy summer travel season.”

“It is our pleasure to work with the URW team on this project and foster connections with the MWBE/LBE/SDVOB community,” said Chris Asaro, president of Holt Construction. “Working with likeminded partners who strive to build up the communities in which they operate makes all the difference in being successful in ensuring outreach goals are achieved. Since the onset of our program for the Terminal 8 commercial redevelopment program we have held 16 virtual outreach sessions, spoken to over 1,500 individuals, prequalified 29 new MWBE/LBE/SDVOB firms and are in the process of working with another 139 firms who have showed interest.” 

“Being a part of the first inaugural exhibit at JFK T8 is a testament to our manifestations as artists and small business owners,” said Shenna Vaughn, curator of Vaughn Bentley Creative. “As local artists and small business owners, this has been an exciting and pivotal experience for not only ourselves, but the local artists we have called along to exhibit within the showcase as well. With the support of URW, we have provided our thriving talents, and our eclectic vision toward such a groundbreaking project which communicates, inspires, and transcends the passions of our mind, and heart. We aspire to be the catalyst of many more exhibitions to come.” 

“The $19 billion overhaul of Kennedy Airport has been a game changer for the Queens economy, including the hundreds of local businesses that have combined to secure nearly $1 billion in contracting opportunities to operate at the facility. That success will be on display at Terminal 8 as well, as we get started on this massive commercial redevelopment of the space,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. “From dining to retail to even locally sourced art to be displayed at Terminal 8, I look forward to seeing even more Queens-based entrepreneurs and artists becoming critical pieces of the airport’s overall redevelopment.” 

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Vicky is the co-founder of TravelDailyNews Media Network where she is the Editor-in Chief. She is also responsible for the daily operation and the financial policy. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Tourism Business Administration from the Technical University of Athens and a Master in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Wales.

She has many years of both academic and industrial experience within the travel industry. She has written/edited numerous articles in various tourism magazines.