A helicopter spent Thursday morning carefully putting air condition systems into place at JFK. It's part of the first-ever "construction-helicopter airlift" helping to build a new private, luxury terminal for pets at JFK Airport.
"Whether it be pet birds, or dogs and cats, they also have to undergo a process they have to be checked and for certain animals they need to be in a quarantine," said Dr. Aaron Perl, managing director at ARK Development. "And that's what we have here, a Department of Agriculture-approved quarantine facility.”
The project, called the ARK at JFK, will offer 24-hour grooming, health and spa services for feathered, or four-legged fliers. Ark Managing Director Dr. Aaron Perl says the project also got approval from the Port Authority to cater to larger animals.
"One of the main purposes is obviously competition horses, whether it's racehorses, show-jumping, but there's also the aspect of exporting cows, livestock, dairy cows particularly from the New York region to countries like China," said Perl.
"It's really a milestone because we've had to overcame a lot of obstacles," said Wayne Lawrence, Jr., senior project manager at Holt Construction.
One hurdle is building a special air-conditioned system suitable for a wide-range of wildlife. Backers announced the project in 2012, at an estimated cost of $32 million. But costs have since ballooned to $50 million. Organizers say that’s because the project expanded for tenants like Air France.
The construction teams will be done with helicopters and hard hats within a month or two. And Perl says the Ark will be fully operational by October, with partners like 'Paradise 4 Paws' in-house.
"They're famous for their bone-shaped dog pools, their executive suites, flat beds, flat-screen TVs, web-cams," said Perl. "So it's really the deluxe treatment for pet parents planning to fly."
The ARK is expected to create 150 jobs and bring more than $100 million in rental income for the Port Authority, over its 32-year lease.