Westchester County Airport Preps for Major Makeover

Officials announced a new public-private partnership meant to energize the local economy and save taxpayers more than $140 million.

By Keith Loria, Contributing Editor

Robert Astorino announced plans to revitalize the Westchester County Airport
Robert Astorino announced plans to revitalize the Westchester County Airport

New York—Plans are in motion for updates to Westchester County Airport in the Hudson Valley, which is designed to improve the overall passenger experience, energize the local economy, strengthen environmental protections, plus save taxpayers more than $140 million.

The plan will be structured under a 40-year revenue-sharing lease with Oaktree Capital Management LP’s Infrastructure Investing group.

“Westchester is building on a national trend towards delivering the airport improvements and innovation this country needs,” Emmett McCann, Oaktree’s managing director, said in a prepared release. “By utilizing the strong demand for stable long-term infrastructure investment, creating a best-in-class passenger experience, and successfully aligning the interests of all stakeholders, the county is enhancing the local economy and creating jobs without placing a further burden on the airport’s neighbors and local taxpayers.”

Westchester will receive a $111 million upfront payment from Oaktree, which is being structured so that the proceeds can be applied to the county’s operating budget over the course of the 40-year lease. The first year net revenue to the county will be $15 million; followed by a net revenue payment of $5 million in each of the next four years; followed by average net revenue payment of more than $2 million a year in each of the remaining years on the lease.

“The driving force behind this proposal is simple—unlock millions of dollars of value that have been created at the airport and put this idle money to work in ways that benefit everyone who lives, works and visits Westchester,” Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino, said in the release. “We are creating a reliable, long-term source of funding that will assist taxpayers, help pay for parks, police, day care and all of our other services, and enhance the passenger experience at our airport, and doing all of this without changing the current character of the nearby neighborhoods. This is smart government adapting to the future, while protecting the present and past.”

Changes will include a redesigned passenger lounge with enhanced seating, a reconfigured ticketing area to simplify boarding, improved parking with valet and garage check-in options, an enhancement of the arrival area with new baggage claim equipment, and updated concessions and restaurants with more food and dining offerings.

The deal would keep in place the current limits on passengers, the footprint of the terminal and the hours of operation. The number of gates at the airport would remain at four and there will be no addition of new runways or extensions of existing runways.

The public-private partnership between Westchester County and Oaktree, known as a P3 under the FAA program, is not a sale. The airport will continue to be owned by Westchester County and will continue to be privately managed.

Oaktree’s payments can be applied to the county’s operating budget as early as 2017.

Oaktree has completed similar deals with projects in Baltimore, Puerto Rico and London and expects this project to serve as a model for similar airports across the country.

Image courtesy of Westchestergov.com