It’s going to take a little magic to transform LaGuardia Airport into a shiny, welcoming portal to the city.
Magic Johnson Enterprises is investing in the massive $8 billion project to rebuild the outdated airport, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Tuesday.
“LaGuardia is going to be a beautiful front door to New York,” said Cuomo during a ceremonial groundbreaking at the airport for the new $3.4 billion Delta Terminal. “It’s not just an airport, it’s a symbol.”
He said the partnership with the former NBA star turned entrepreneur and investor marks a major milestone for the state’s commitment to support Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise (MWBE) projects.
Specifically, Magic Johnson Enterprises and Loop Capital, which together make up JLC Infrastructure, are investing with LaGuardia Gateway Partners, which is building the western half of the airport in Queens. JLC Infrastructure is committing to $10 million in equity for that portion of the airport development.
Officials said this is the first time an MWBE firm is investing equity in a public-private construction project in the state’s history.
As part of a larger plan to construct the new airport, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is giving Delta $600 million to rebuild its terminal and gate facilities.
Delta CEO Edward Bastian said the LaGuardia project — which includes four concourses and 37 gates — is the largest airport investment in the company’s history.
Cuomo pointed out the nation’s ailing infrastructure has put it at a disadvantage.
“We are living off the inheritance, not of our parents, of our grandparents,” he said. “But while we’ve been standing still, our competition around the globe has been working and building and developing. And airports are a perfect example of it.”
He pointed to “magnificent structures” at airports in South Korea, Munich, Dubai and Hong Kong.
Cuomo noted that even President Donald Trump, as a candidate, talked about the importance of infrastructure — and pledged $1 trillion to update it across the country.
“I don’t know what happened to the trillion dollars,” Cuomo said. “But he was right about investing in infrastructure.”
Cuomo also emphasized the importance of linking LaGuardia to the subway through an AirTrain system.
“There’s no airport that works in a metropolitan area that doesn’t have a one-seat ride to the airport,” he said.
The redesigned LaGuardia also will provide more space for airport taxiways.
Overcrowded with cramped conditions and few amenities, LaGuardia was famously derided by former Vice President Joe Biden in 2014 as being like “a Third World country.”
State officials said private dollars will pay for about 75% of the overall $8 billion price tag for the new airport, which is expected to be completed by 2021.