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Cogeneration Takes Flight at JFK Airport Hotel

By District Energy posted 12-20-2018 00:00


Diana Mosher, Commercial Property Executive


When MCR Development announced in 2015 that it would be converting the TWA Flight Center at John F. Kennedy International Airport into a lobby and retail space for an adjacent six-story hotel, it was a happy day for architecture and aviation enthusiasts. Now, as the $265 million project nears completion in first quarter 2019, another aspect of the hotel is garnering additional interest: Its self-contained cogeneration power system, which will reduce the property’s operating costs by an estimated $4 million.

Most attention will focus on the existing 200,000-square-foot building, a flight-themed 1962 masterpiece designed by Eero Saarinen. That will be the hotel’s public-facing component and house the hotel’s lobby, registration desk, restaurant, bars and retail. The renovated front portion will connect to two new wings that will offer 512 guest rooms. Other visitor draws: A new conference center and a retro cocktail bar housed in a vintage plane.

Those features will lure visitors, but the remarkable power strategy will be located out of public view. Housed on the roof of the north hotel building will be a combined heat and power plant (CHP) will supply electricity and regulate temperature for the entire property. The CHP plant will connect to a natural gas source, allowing the building to operate on a separate power source from the airport and greatly reduce its energy expenses. “The CHP effectively saves us $4 million a year in operating costs,”  said Jason Garone, vice president construction, MCR Development. 

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