By  on December 6, 2004

NEW YORK — Setting a higher standard for airport shopping and easing the angst of overseas travel, The Shops at Terminal 4 at JFK International Airport officially took off Thursday night.

And it was all systems go, with a runway show, raffles, a pasta and lo mein party and a lot of steep discounts spotlighting the four-block-long, 100,000-square-foot linear array of fashion and jewelry boutiques that have been steadily debuting for the past few seasons at the site.

It didn’t matter whether you had a plane ticket or not. About 500 airport employees, travelers and those picking up or dropping off passengers saw the show. The Shops at Terminal 4 is located before security checks, making it accessible to everyone. It’s a major component to the 150 million-square-foot, $1.4 billion Terminal 4 [formerly known as International Arrivals], which is the cornerstone of a $10.3 billion revitalization of the airport.

While hardly another Madison Avenue, The Shops at Terminal 4 is a stratospheric departure from the usual array of mundane convenience and souvenir shops that most domestic airports serve up.

It’s also more in the spirit of conventional downtown retailing. For example, price promotions and special events, even possibly more fashion shows in an effort to create stronger ties to the community, are in the works, according to Alain Maca, president of JFK IAT LLC, the private joint venture that designed and built Terminal 4 and continues to operate it.

“We will be religious about this,” he said, while gazing at the fashion show, which featured a mix of fashions in the shops and some vintage airline uniforms covering six decades. “We expect that travelers, the airport community and people who live in nearby neighborhoods that are now connected to Terminal 4 by the AirTrain will want to shop here.”

Amid the silvery, stainless steel, modern environment, the lineup of retail ranges from an 11,000-square-foot DFS Galleria to an 800-square-foot DKNY. The pale sleek look enables the merchandise and the modern architecture to speak for themselves, while the exterior store design is generally uniform.

There’s also Swarovski, H. Stern, The Metropolitan Museum of Art Store, and several “wall huggers” or 100- to 200-square-foot nooks selling such brands as Tie Rack and Fossil.

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