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Advocacy Group Says Time is Short; Airline, Agency Are Missing Opportunities

July 30, 2013 Destination North America No Comments Email Email

Ignoring continued pleas to rescue the historic Worldport rotunda at Terminal 3, Delta Air Lines and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey remain unrelenting in their mission to level the iconic Jet Age landmark.

In response to the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s announcement of the terminal as one of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places, Delta promptly instructed demolition crews on a Sunday morning to begin stripping the building in the wake of increasing publicity. A reliable source familiar with the project acknowledged that workers were told to quickly begin defacing the building – a common tactic used to thwart preservation efforts. “Delta wanted to get rid of it before you could save it,” the source said.

Undeterred by Delta’s response, preservation advocacy group Save the Worldport crowd-funded an awareness ad in the July 19, 2013 New York Times. “We want people to know about the injustice being done, that there are better alternatives than demolition, despite the claims Delta and the Port Authority are making,” says Kalev Savi, the group’s founder. Lisa Turano Wojcik, daughter of Worldport architect Emanuel Turano adds, “JFK is a public airport, and citizens have the right to oppose the destruction of this historic public building.”

The group’s website contains a wealth of information about the building’s rich history. It also includes a document that uses publicly available data to challenge claims made by the airline and bi-state agency over such issues as jobs and traveler benefits, and presents compelling arguments in favor of saving the building. The group’s website is available at

The group suggests that saving and restoring the rotunda will generate significant favorable PR for Delta. “They have a tremendous occasion to improve the airport and show the world they respect New York’s history instead of being stuck with the stigma of destroying it,” says Savi. “It’s not just throw-away architecture – it’s historic and irreplaceable.” The group urges shareholders, private citizens and influential individuals to challenge Delta and the Port Authority’s actions.

Delta’s current lease requires it to raze the site and pave it for remote aircraft parking at its own expense, but the airline can easily ask to amend its lease to exclude the iconic rotunda, setting aside just 3% of the available 48-acre parcel. The Port Authority has applied for $215 million in FAA airport improvement funds for the demolition and paving project, largely to reimburse Delta. At least two airlines have filed objections with the FAA on anti-competitive grounds, and a third admitted that the project will unfairly benefit Delta.

Several hundred jobs were lost as a result of Terminal 3 closing, most of which were not directly replaced at Terminal 4. Delta also states that 200 jobs will be created during demolition and redevelopment, but neglects to mention the jobs are only temporary. The group argues that renovating the building will create hundreds more jobs – many of them permanent.

Delta recently committed another $175 million for further expansion of its new Terminal 4 facilities to consolidate regional jet operations. However, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection statistics, Terminal 4 already has the dubious distinction of longest wait at any U.S. airport terminal – over 93 minutes during peak times – thanks in part to Delta’s decision to transfer its entire Terminal 3 operation en masse to Terminal 4. This next phase of expansion will further overtax the facility and again stretch the already lengthy Concourse B. But the group suggests one of many viable alternatives: Restore the Worldport rotunda, demolish the clunky old terminal behind it, and build the new regional terminal in its place. Demolition of Delta’s Terminal 2 will free even more space later.

But can anything be done now that much of the roof has been stripped? “Of course,” says Anthony Stramaglia, the group’s organizer. “The main structure is still intact; they can fully rebuild it to its original grandeur using the latest materials.” Savi adds, “They’re already spending the money; why not incorporate classic elements with new construction to build something distinctive and memorable rather than another generic concourse?” The group has always insisted that airport improvement, not just preservation, is at the heart of their mission, and this proposal is a win-win scenario.

The iconic terminal opened in May 1960 and was the home of Pan American World Airways. Delta Air Lines took over the terminal following Pan Am’s collapse in 1991 and operated it until May 23, 2013. Kalev Savi started Save the Worldport in August 2010 with a handful of Facebook followers. Today the group has amassed a passionate social media community hailing from over 60 countries.

SOURCE Save the Worldport


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