Have horse, will travel: New animal terminal to be built at JFK Airport

178,000-square-foot ‘Ark at JFK’ will generate $138 million in rent for Port Authority over 20-year lease

Aug.August 01, 2014 07:00 AM
Horses, dogs and other traveling animals will get their own $48 million terminal next year at John F. Kennedy International airport

Horses, dogs and other traveling animals will get their own $48 million terminal next year at John F. Kennedy International airport

Many travelers think Kennedy Airport has already gone to the dogs. But it won’t be until next summer that the airport has the world’s first animal terminal.

The facility will allow owners to board, quarantine and import or export animals big and small.

Dubbed the “Ark at JFK,” the project is being developed by Racebrook Capital and designed by Gensler, with assistance from specialty equine architect GH2.

The $48 million terminal will be able handle 70,000 animals a year, including horses, pets, birds, exotic or zoo animals and livestock.

The 178,000-square-foot facility will be built on the site of JFK’s vacant Building 78. The space will include an air cargo facility, a veterinary clinic building and a pet boarding facility, along with an animal import and export center and livestock handling system. It will be fully operational in 2016.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which first approved the project in 2012, expects to receive about $138 million in rent over the 20-year lease term.

Right now, the available facilities for animals at JFK are quite old, and using them can add hours to a trip, said John J. Cuticelli, Jr., CEO of Racebrook Capital. The Ark will provide a facility right on the runway. “All of the additional handling costs are eliminated. It is a much more efficient, humane process,” he said.

Horse-show competitor Charlotte Kullen, who owns real estate publicity agency Char PR, is optimistic about the Ark’s potential to simplify the process of transporting animals. Having a single location for processing paperwork and quarantining animals will reduce stress for both horses and their owners, she said. “But we’d have to see how the facility will be handled, who will run it, the booking procedures and the pricing, to know if it will be an advantage.”

Costs are also a concern for Melissa Cohn, executive vice president of the Manhattan division of mortgage finance company Guaranteed Rate, and a sponsor of the Hampton Classic Horse Show.

“If the overall cost is less expensive, and it puts less stress on the animal, then it could be a great thing,” she said. “But we’ve lived without it for all of our lives.”


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