Meridiam-led team wins LaGuardia bid

The Port Authority has finally named a preferred bidder for the $3.6bn airport redevelopment project, which is currently the largest PPP in North America.

LaGuardia Gateway Partners, a consortium teaming Meridiam, Vantage Airport Group and Skanska, has emerged as the preferred bidder for the $3.6 billion LaGuardia redevelopment project, which has suffered so many delays numerous industry observers had begun to doubt it would ever come to fruition.

“Today’s vote is the culmination of a multi-year procurement process conducted by the Port Authority to select a team of leading private-sector construction, engineering, planning, airport management and finance firms to work with the agency in an innovative public-private partnership [PPP; P3] to construct the first phase of redevelopment of LaGuardia,” the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns LaGuardia airport and is the procuring agency for the project, said in a statement.

LaGuardia Gateway Partners will be responsible for designing, constructing, operating and maintaining the new terminal, whose construction will be funded from both the private and public sector, each respectively contributing $2 billion and around $1 billion.

The project, currently the largest PPP in North America, involves demolishing the 51-year old Central Terminal Building, also known as Terminal B, and replacing it with a new 1.3 million square foot, 35-gate terminal building, as well as surrounding infrastructure. The demolition will take place in stages while the rest of the airport continues to operate.

Following recommendations put forth by an advisory panel created by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo last January, the project will also entail building a new central entry portal to the airport and unifying the airport’s four previously unconnected terminals.

Other advisory panel recommendations the Port Authority is including in the procurement process are: allowing for retail and dining space in the new central terminal building; a hotel; a conference and business centre; and a rail connection that would link the airport to the subway for the first time.

“The new terminal design is not expected to cost significantly more than previously anticipated for the old replacement concept,” the Port Authority said in the statement, adding that its board has capped the cost of the new entry portal at $400 million.

Cuomo created the seven-member Airport Advisory Panel to formulate recommendations for a master plan for New York’s two major airports – LaGuardia and John F Kennedy International. The panel is expected to make its final recommendations in the third quarter of this year.

According to Port Authority executive director Patrick Foye, the next steps include seeking board approval next month for early infrastructure work to be carried out by both the agency and the private developer, while negotiations between the winning team and the eight airlines operating out of Terminal B are expected to begin in the third quarter.

The agency hopes to achieve commercial close in the fourth quarter of 2015 and financial close in the first quarter of the following year at which time construction would commence.

“Today’s board action is a major step in the modernisation of LaGuardia and a huge step toward Governor Cuomo’s goal of 21st century airports in New York,” Foye told the board during Thursday’s meeting.