ARK Development to Build Animal Cargo Terminal at NY’s JFK Airport

JFK International Airport in New York will be the site of the world’s only privately owned animal handling cargo terminal under a 30-year lease the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey signed with the developer.
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JFK International Airport in New York will be the site of the world’s only privately owned animal handling cargo terminal under a 30-year lease the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey signed with Racebrook Capital, the developer of the $48 million, 178,000-square-foot facility.

The ARK at JFK will be built at the Cargo Building 78 at JFK, a structure that has been vacant for nearly 10 years surrounded by 14.4 acres with direct airside access to the taxiway and large aircraft ramp parking. The project will create more than 180 jobs and generate about $108 million in revenues for the PANYNJ over the term of the lease.

“It’s extremely rare for any company, including major airlines and cargo handlers to get a long-term lease with the Port Authority,” Dr. Aaron Perl, founder and managing director of The ARK at JFK and general counsel of The Racebrook Portfolio Cos., told Commercial Property Executive. “To realize this monumental project under a 30-year lease with exclusivity provisions is a testament to the cooperation of numerous private and public entities, as well as the perseverance and real estate of parent company Racebrook.”

Racebrook chairman John Cuticelli Jr., also a founder of The ARK at JFK, said the facility will address unmet needs for the import and export of companion, sporting and agricultural animals.

“The animal terminal will set new international airport standards for comprehensive veterinary, kenneling and quarantine services,” he said in a release.

The facility will be divided into three sections: the air cargo wing, a central and administrative and business center with a 24-hour veterinary hospital and the main animal handling area with pet boarding, animal import and export center, and livestock export handling system.

“Redeveloping cargo infrastructure and growing the cargo pie at New York and New Jersey’s airports is vital to supporting thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity for the region,” Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye said in the release.

A 100-page report recently issued by a panel appointed to make recommendations for the PANYNJ’s future urged the agency to monetize its vast real estate portfolio. The report recommended “prudently divesting existing real estate holdings” and restricting future investments only to those that are integral to transportation.

Foye lauded the deal with Racebrook because it will guarantee “the Port Authority more than $100 million in revenues without any additional capital investment.”

In the planning stages for several years, ARK Development L.L.C., an affiliate of Racebrook, will be responsible for developing, financing, constructing, operating and managing the animal cargo terminal.

Build NYC, New York City’s conduit bond issuer, will issue bonds underwritten by Goldman Sachs, equity partner Westport Capital Partners L.L.C. and construction lender The Union Labor Life Insurance Co., Real Estate Investment Group, to help finance the project.

Racebrook is subleasing about half of the facility to Consolidated Aviation Services, which will be the anchor tenant. Paradise 4 Paws will operate a 20,000-square-foot, 24-hour pet resort for cats and dogs. LIFECARE Veterinary Health System will provide medical care.

Working on the project are architect firm Gensler, equine-specialty architect Gralla Equine Architects, Holt Construction and Grandin Livestock Handling Systems, with guidance from Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.