Gov. Kathy Hochul and other officials broke ground on Thursday for the renovation of Terminal One, the largest part of an effort to rebuild John F. Kennedy International Airport. 

The $9.5 billion privately funded project will be the largest free-standing terminal in the country, according to Hochul.

“We need a world class hub to welcome people from around the world and let them know who we are,” Hochul said on Thursday. “This is our identity.”

The project will create 10,000 jobs, 6,000 of which will be in construction. Thirty percent of those jobs will go to Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprises, she said.

“It’s going to be made by the most talented workforce known to man or womankind,” Hochul said.

The first phase of the Terminal One project, which is expected to be completed by 2026, will add 14 new gates. The full project is expected to be completed by 2030 and will include 2.4 million square feet with a total of 23 gates, the governor said. 

This adds to construction projects already underway at JFK, including at terminals 4 and 8. In total, the JFK rebuild is expected to cost $18 billion. 

It also comes after the opening of a $4 billion revamp of Terminal C at LaGuardia Airport.

“People walk through there and their jaw drops,” Hochul said. “People want to look up again.” 

“Right now you go through a place like Penn Station and the former LaGuardia, the former airports, you just wanted to look down,” she went on to say.

Hochul announced plans to resume this project, which will anchor the south side of JFK, last December. The plan was first announced in 2017 under former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s JFK Vision Plan. Construction was supposed to begin in 2020, but was delayed due to the pandemic.