Customer Experience

Port Authority, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield and American Airlines Start Construction for $125 Million JFK Terminal 8 Commercial Redevelopment

Seasonal Artist Showcase Featuring Queens-Based Artists will Transform Construction Barriers into a Gallery-Style Exhibit

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 today 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.

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.” The local artists:

Eduardo Anievas Cortines

Eduardo Anievas Cortines’ paintings approach different subjects: figure, cityscape, landscape, abstractions, still lifes, and portraits. Eduardo was born in Santander, a city on the north coast of Spain, in 1973. He graduated from the University of Fine Arts in Salamanca in 1996 and then moved to Passau, Germany, and began his life as a full-time artist, selling still-life paintings of flowers and fruits and painting portraits by commission. After a year in Portugal and a sojourn to China and Tibet, Eduardo moved to New York City. His paintings have been exhibited in the United States, Spain, Germany, Bulgaria and Portugal. In New York, Eduardo has exhibited in galleries, cultural centers, restaurants, nightclubs, on the streets of Manhattan and in his Open Studio Series in Long Island City, Queens.

Timothy Hutto

Timothy Hutto (1981, St. Petersburg, U.S.) is an artist who mainly works within photography. A U.S. Navy veteran and graduate of The Savannah College of Art and Design, his artwork is characterized by the use of familiar objects in an atmosphere of vivid color where meanings surpass the saturated presentation. Using color, plain objects and ambiguous linguistic messages, he creates pop-art inspired still-life paintings that comment on the ideals of the American middle class. Ready-made objects become profound statements and image becomes commentary. His works question the everyday in the context of contemporary visual culture. Timothy Hutto lives and works in New York City.

Luis Caraos

After working for years as an architect and after retiring as a nurse in 2016, Luis Caraos pursued his lifelong dream of becoming a full-time visual artist specializing in oil painting. He had been joining art shows since 2019 and continues to join art competitions and art exhibitions in New York state and in New Jersey where he garnered several awards including best-in-show, first-place honors, second-place and honorable-mention awards.

Sheena Vaughn

Shenna Vaughn is a dynamic force in the artistic community, bringing together her passion for art with a strong entrepreneurial spirit. Hailing from Queens, N.Y., an educator, curator, and community advocate, a member of the Southeast Queens Artist Alliance (SEQAA) committee. She attended the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) and received a degree from Hunter College. She has been recognized through various grants, including those from the Queens Council on the Arts, the City Artist Corps and the DFR artist commissioning program. Her work has gained notable recognition, with pieces featured in Beyoncé's corporate collection and privately held by prominent figures such as NBA player Josh Powell and Tommy Porter & Mara Schiavocampo.

William Bentley

William Bentley specializes in graphic design, illustration, painting, portraiture, murals, and set design. He has worked as an art instructor, teaching the creative youth of New York City. He looks forward to taking his love of art to new heights, creating works that will inspire the community by connecting kindred spirits, and preserving the powerful and magical whimsy of creation. HIs online subscription-based art education channel,, provides family-friendly art education as well as video logs of his experiences in creating artworks and passion for the visual arts.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey recently announced a record $2.3 billion in contracts awarded to minority and women-owned business enterprises (MWBE) in the ongoing transformation of JFK International Airport. T8 Partners is committed to achieving the Port Authority goal of 30 percent M/WBE participation in the design and construction of concession spaces and 30 percent airport concessions disadvantaged business enterprise (ACDBE) for concession operations.

Redeveloping JFK Airport in Lockstep with the Local Community In 2018, the JFK Redevelopment Community Advisory Council was formed. It is co-chaired by U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks and Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, and is composed of elected officials, community boards, business and nonprofit organizations, civic organizations, and clergy leaders from the targeted local communities of southeast Queens, southwest Queens, the Rockaways, and western portions of Nassau County.

Since its inception, the council has been working with the Port Authority to expand community outreach efforts and develop community-focused programs, ensuring that this ambitious project solicits ongoing feedback from local stakeholders and provides meaningful opportunities for local businesses, MWBEs, students, and jobseekers. This includes programming to advance the Port Authority's commitment to a 30 percent MWBE contracting goal in all categories of work, and a special focus on opportunities for local businesses across all aspects of the JFK redevelopment program, including terminal projects, which will be built by union labor under a full project-labor agreement. Other community development initiatives prioritized by the council focus on job opportunities and workforce development programs for residents, small business outreach and development, and educational programming for local students.

Transforming JFK Into a World-Class Global Gateway In January 2017, the JFK Vision Plan was announced to transform JFK into the world-class airport that New Yorkers deserve. The vision plan provides a strategic framework for the Port Authority and its partners to completely redevelop, modify and expand existing facilities and infrastructure. The $9.5 billion development of a state-of-the-art New Terminal One that will anchor the airport's south side broke ground in September 2022. A new $4.2 billion Terminal 6, which will connect seamlessly with Terminal 5 to create an anchor terminal on the airport’s north side, broke ground in February 2023. The $1.5 billion expansion of Terminal 4, led by Delta Air Lines and JFK International Air Terminal (JFKIAT), is substantially complete. Additionally, the $400 million expansion of Terminal 8, led by American Airlines, which operates the terminal, was completed in November 2022. All of the privately financed terminal projects combined with the Port Authority's $3.9 billion investment in roadway, parking and infrastructure projects represent a $19 billion transformation of JFK and an extraordinary series of public-private partnerships.


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