A top-end boutique hotel could soon be built in a vacant terminal at New York's busy JFK airport, according to reports from the US.

The TWA Flight Center at JFK International, which has been closed since 2001, is being touted by its owners as the potential centrepiece for a "small, high-end hotel," reports the Wall Street Journal.

The building, which was designed by Eero Saarinen and first opened in 1962, is built in a striking shape reminiscent of bird wings and is considered both a historic and architectural landmark.

Although it now serves as an entrance for Jetblue's T5, an adjoining multimillion dollar terminal opened in 2009, most of the original building remains empty, despite a huge restoration project to make it safer and more attractive for developers.

According to sources cited in the Wall Street Journal, any hotel housed in the building would be able to offer some "considerable cultural cachet," although the building's landmark status means that a hotel would need to be built around the terminal, rather than vice versa.

Any property would be a "niche-market boutique-style hotel with about 150 rooms," the WSJ quoted a Port Authority of New York and New Jersey spokesperson as saying.

If a developer chooses to take on the project, it could give New York a world-class conversion to compete with lavish redevelopments such as the forthcoming Renaissance St Pancras hotel in London (converted from the former station and hotel), the recently-opened Shangri-La Paris (a former palace of Napoleon's grandnephew) and the Four Seasons Gresham Palace in Budapest.