Among essential construction projects that have continued to chug along throughout the pandemic, the redesign of LaGuardia’s Terminal B has managed to remain on schedule with few delays, thanks in part to lower traffic, and is now complete. Part of a larger revitalization plan for the airport launched in 2015 by Gov. Cuomo, the arrivals and departures hall was unveiled last week, giving travelers a picture of what the future holds in store for LaGuardia as a whole when the final bricks are in place sometime in 2021.
The finish line, though still a year away, reflects years of effort to update and improve the airport, once openly criticized for its lack of cleanliness and desperate need of a facelift.
What Has Been the Timeline for LaGuardia’s Transformation?
Plans for a full rebuild were around as early as 2010, when Christopher Ward, director of the Port Authority, brought in consultants to look into fully demolishing and rebuilding the entire site to something modern and up to date. The proposed project would cost about $2.5 billion, and proposals would continue in the coming years.
The initial plan included bringing in a private company to fund the operation. Still, in 2015, Governor Cuomo announced the state would be overseeing this project, which had an original budget of $4 billion but has now grown to almost $8 billion. Phase One began in 2016. Private airlines started to invest in 2017, in time for Phase Two to begin.
Each stage of construction has been gradual, with multiple changes, including moving the entire facility approximately 600 feet closer to the Grand Central Parkway, an eco-friendly build, and new parking garages. The only major parts of the airport that do not appear to have needed changing were the runways.
LaGuarida Airport and Terminal B: A Picture of Progress
LaGuardia’s Terminal B and its plans and progress have been an ongoing part of the project since at least 2011, starting with a complete demolition during Phase One. With its recent reopening, we have a clearer idea of what the new and final LaGuardia will resemble as a whole:
- Once viewed as small and cramped, the new terminal provides a spacious airport—incidentally safer for social distancing. The new terminal gives us a preview of this with four stories and about 850,000 square feet of space.
- With 16 security lanes, 75 check-in kiosks and at least 5 additional gates, there is more room for travelers to get where they need to go quickly and safely.
- Multiple new dining and retail spaces are available with far more space than they were allotted before, with famous New York City brands like Tony + Benny’s Authentic Brooklyn Pizza, Think Coffee, Eli’s Essentials by Eli Zabar, and more awaiting new customers.
The finished space is light and stylish, with floor-to-ceiling windows letting the sun in from every angle and mid-century modern touches to the decor, reflecting years of design, development, and labor.
What Remains to Be Finished?
Two significant points reconstruction still remain, as well as multiple other finishing touches. Partnering with Delta Airlines, Terminal C’s renovation is still underway and due to finish in 2021. The Western Concourse, which will house American Airlines, remains a part of Terminal B that is also not yet finished, and slated for a 2021 opening. Seventeen additional gates are also reported to be on their way. The vision of a finished LaGuardia airport appears to be a wide-open space, elbow room, and ease of access while traveling. Laborers continue to work diligently to bring the entire project in on time and under budget.