“New York is the front door to the nation, this is the gateway to the largest metro region in the country, which at its core is New York City.”Dr. Gerrard Bushell
Gerrard Bushell holds a genuine, deep-rooted connection to New York, which is embedded in its metropolis. As president and CEO of the New Terminal One (NTO) at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), Dr. Bushell is leading the team responsible for advancing a public/private partnership with the Port Authority, with a mission to deliver a special world-class experience in the building of an international terminal that will offer all who pass through its gates a sense of place and an undeniable sense that you are in New York City.
Born in Brooklyn, Gerrard lived in Brownsville and later moved to Mount Vernon. As a young child, his mother taught him the importance of education and building a network of support to help navigate him through life.
As he grew up, one of the valuable lessons Gerrard learned was to try new things and to be flexible. Coming from a family of entrepreneurs in the restaurant business, he tended bar, cleaned bathrooms, and encountered the pressing issues that arise each day at a restaurant, such as finding and retaining quality staff, and that unexpected things often happen that you must go with… because you have people at the door. His mother also imparted to her son that he be motivated each day by a sense of self, conviction, and family. These lessons helped to give Gerrard the license to think big and do great things, regardless of life circumstances.
Gerrard did not go far for school. He stayed in New York City and attended Columbia University, where he learned the life skills necessary to carry him forward. He earned a B.A., M.A., and PhD. in Political Sciences and started out early in his career as a community advocate, first with community services, voter registration, and opening capital and credit for community and fair housing. In 1987 he began work on a very powerful voter registration campaign called Count-Down 88, which ultimately led to the election and governance of David Dinkins, New York City’s first black mayor. “That was a very different time in New York,” said Bushell during a recent interview with Metropolitan Airport News. Subsequently, Dr. Bushell served in senior roles for DC 37 of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and worked very closely with C. Virginia Fields, activist and Borough President of Manhattan when she was a city council member. A year later, he made the determination to join the recently appointed N.Y. State Comptroller H. Carl McCall’s organization as head of government affairs and chief of staff. In the more than five years that Bushell held that position, it brought together all the work he had previously done with communities and campaigns. It gave him a further understanding of the Comptroller’s office as sole trustee for a pension system and as a fiduciary: “How do you use capital to create assurance for the people of this great State,” said Bushell, “if you’re a worker in the system, you want to know that there’s a pension waiting for you…but you also must have good investments in environmental, social, and governance.” This was a time that exposed him to the capital markets and an investment thesis that determined that he go into investment management, which he did for the next 15 years, working with public institutions, public clients, labor institutions, investing their assets for firms, on behalf of the firms that he worked for.
In 2016 Governor Andrew Cuomo asked Dr. Bushell to join his administration for the Dormitory Authority State of New York (DASNY), which once again gave him an opportunity to take and use all his experiences for working with higher education institutions to try to access innovation, workforce development, and extension strategies where people could start earlier in life and have a linkage between communities, higher education, community colleges, and 4-year schools. DASNY was a financier to higher education, justice institutions, state and local government, a builder of CUNY and SUNY, and a booster for public and private institutions in New York State. Bushell worked with the Life Sciences Center, Kings County, Brookdale Hospital, and community institutions that didn’t have access to extension strategies. “I did that for five years and loved every minute of it, but then I had to think about what was next. I didn’t want to go back to just raising money, as I did before. I wanted more impact. I wanted the ability to do the private/public partnerships that I had worked with, but wanted to do it at a higher level,” emphasized Bushell.
In 2017, Dr. Bushell began teaching at Columbia University as an adjunct professor and was later called by the Carlyle Group’s global airport investment platform, CAG Holdings, who were looking for an investment opportunity at JFK International Airport. After six months of talks, he was asked to join the Carlyle Group. In 2019 Bushell became the Chair of CAG Holdings and President and CEO of the New Terminal One Development Project at John F. Kennedy International Airport, leading the team responsible for advancing a public/private partnership with the Port Authority, valued at $9.5 billion, and promoting community engagement, labor participation, an MWBE (Minority & Women-owned Business Enterprises) goal beyond 30%, and SDVOB (Service-disabled Veteran-owned businesses).
Alongside Carlyle, the NTO consists of a consortium of leading investors, Ferrovial, JLC Infrastructure, and Ullico, all of whom are financing the largest private investment ever committed to a U.S. airport terminal and are appointed to design, build and operate the NTO at JFK.
With Bushell’s role and responsibility to advance the development of the project, CAG was prepared to sign the lease in 2019. And then COVID hit…hard. “The world that we knew understood and appreciated, changed. We were building a 2.4 million square feet terminal that would encompass Terminal 1, T-2, and the former T-3 that would deliver a world-class, sustainable focused terminal with all these wonderful things. Then, international borders were shut down, and travel collapsed, and the expectation was that it would not return until 2024, maybe 2025… just as we were peaking on tracking to deliver this,” said Dr. Bushell. “We had to adjust and rethink design while still committed to this world-class experience with the focus on how to use space and technology.
Technology is very valuable, bio-metric technology, facial recognition, passenger check-in the day before arriving to the airport, or on your phone. We felt this was very important because everything was about space and social distancing. Technology had to be central to that proposition and focused on a world-class experience.”
With New York City as the central port of the metropolitan region, this incredible mandate needed to drive forward, despite the challenges of the pandemic. The project was sustained by the consortium as they continued to rethink and reposition its development and, subsequently, they were fortunate to begin its deliverance, sign a lease, get an investment rating, and draw down funding from approximately nine banks that are supporting the project in partnership with the Port Authority.
In September 2022, Governor Kathy Hochul announced the groundbreaking of the NTO in a major step forward for the transformation of JFK International Airport. “It was a huge announcement, a sense of ‘here we are…reopening!’ We are going to bring thousands upon thousands of jobs, innovation, strong local participation, and more than 100 MWBEs as contractors to work with us,” said Dr. Bushell.
When coming out of the development phase, construction had not yet started, but money had already been put to work, well over $8 million. The commitment and vision were there, and a strong belief that along with innovation, there must be the execution towards diversity and inclusion. “We want competitive jobs that pay living wages so that people can become a part of the middle class in society. Inclusion is very important as we grow and deliver this terminal. It is also important for the community to have a bridge to the terminal, a bridge to be part of that,” added Dr. Bushell.
With a strong commitment to working with the Port Authority, the community advisory board, participation in workforce development, working with the government, a project labor agreement, and negotiating with the building trades and MWBEs, it is important to the consortium to help bring the many small MWBE firms into the process. Having the ability to give up to a $5 million contract consignment will encourage even more participation in the airport and the ability to employ more MWBEs. “For us, it’s exciting, not just for delivering the terminal, but for making sure that we innovate, that we reflect the technology, the comfort, and give people the sense that they’re entering this great city. It is a global city that needs to have an equivalent airport and Ferrovial, Carlyle, JLC, and Ullico have committed almost $2 billion to drive this,” stated Dr. Bushell.
Phases of Delivery
The NTO will be delivered in phases, with 23 gates upon completion:
- Phase A: 13 gates that build out most of the headhouses by June of 2026.
- Phase B-1: Build out an additional five gates in June 2028, and build out five additional gates by June 2030.
The first stage for the replacement of the existing terminal will be very critical. On the day of its delivery, the existing terminal will be taken down, whereupon more capacity can be built. As air travel comes back while delivering the first stage, construction continues.
The NTO will be constructed by a design-build team led by AECOM Tishman, which has managed the construction of some of the world’s most iconic buildings, and Gensler, a leading global design and architecture firm with a proven track record of work at other world-class terminals. Additionally, Robert Gaskin and his Queens-based architecture firm, RCGA, is another of the major contract recipients, who, along with his colleagues, will help to advance the design of the NTO. Once constructed, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield will serve as the Concessions Manager, leading the project’s non-aeronautical revenue platforms, including dining, retail, duty-free, entertainment, and experiential concepts.
Community, Small Business & MWBE
“Inside a procurement of $15 million, there has been 65% participation of MWBEs. Those procurements are smaller, a smaller contract for other smaller businesses that don’t have the capacity to do larger scale work, but that can do meaningful work,” Bushell said.
Several of the small businesses procured are family-owned MWBEs, as well as service-disabled veteran-owned businesses (SDVOB). Insurance broker Yvonne Sullivan and her family managed their business and worked closely to provide placement of one of the consortium’s key insurance programs.
The Queens-based Cauley Coach Charter bus service, managed by the Cauley family, received a significant contract to provide ground transportation. Russo Development Enterprise, Inc. serves construction and demolition, with demolition almost finished.
Meeting on a weekly basis with a team headed by Kimberly Hardy, a nationally recognized Senior V.P. at McKissack & McKissack, Hardy is responsible for ensuring that diversity, equity, and inclusion remain business-critical priorities for the NTO- identifying opportunities that drive participation so that the team is completely integrated with the design and construction team, and to understand where larger procurements are…. the curtain wall, the foundation, and steel, for example. As the project continues and moves into the interior, it is likely that the target of 30% MWBEs may go beyond that percentage.
E.A. Creative, a multidisciplinary team experienced in engineering, mobility, urban planning, and design, will work very closely with the Port Authority’s Transportation Management Plan (TMP). The plan includes prominent signage to help people navigate where they are supposed to be and, more importantly, to focus on identifying navigation earlier, upon entering the airport and directing automobiles to where there is available parking. The AirTrain will continue to operate at the airport, but with work on the Terminal One AirTrain now in progress, there will be bussing to help transit between terminals. Once the current work on the T-1 AirTrain is complete, it will open for operation. Additionally, the Port Authority will provide a strategically placed police presence to encourage the movement of traffic, and people will receive assistance from the Port Authority’s ACES (Airport Customer Experience Specialists), also known as ‘red coats’, as well as baggage handlers who will assist passengers with boarding and deboarding. There will also be temporary signs and decals that inform upcoming changes for pedestrians, as well as targeted online advertising to communicate with the traveling public before they arrive at the airport. “This is a very comprehensive effort between not just us and our contractors but with the Port Authority because it is not terminal specific. It’s the entire airport,” explained Dr. Bushell.
Education and Workforce
There is a commitment in terms of community development dollars with plans for a training program at JFK Airport’s aviation academy, which should begin to take shape as the delivery of the airport draws closer. Additionally, the NTO team has done work with the August Martin Aviation Academy, committing upwards of 40-50 scholarships and partnering with local schools. In building a bridge in terms of workforce development that transitions people to careers, Dr. Bushell will be working with the NTO’s financial sponsors, particularly Ferrovial, as the operator for Heathrow T2 and who have had a tremendous amount of success in integrating the surrounding community into the fabric of the terminal…creating the opportunities, but also helping people match jobs with their skillset. “So, it’s a work in progress. All the raw materials are in place; we’ve been doing this. And as we get close to delivering the terminal, we’ll have more concrete examples in terms of what we structure inside the terminal. But we have made a lot of commitment to working with local community, training, assistance, and just negotiating something that is really going to be about talent management.”
The NTO will be a distinctly New York experience, from key design elements, unique art, and branding from local artists to a commercial experience that will feature predominantly New York City-based restaurants and offerings with a local approach and focus on Queens-based businesses. It will provide a first and last impression of New York…a New York feel and experience for many passengers coming off an airplane and through the terminal, evoking ‘what does it really means to live, or shop, or eat, or to just experience NYC at its finest.
“There are very few opportunities for lifetime and career to be part of a consequential project that opens the door and creates incredible opportunities, and that is what I wanted to do,” said Dr. Bushell, “I wanted something that was consequential. And even when we went through Covid, the ability to drive this forward and hold it head-on to the other side and get this lease … it’s incredible!”