The New York Wheel is a major development project in the St. George Waterfront District, on Staten Island. The 630-ft Ferris wheel was announced in 2012, after the developer Meir Laufer visited the London Eye, and wanted to build a similar project for NYC. Construction started in 2014 and was originally planned for completion in 2015, with an estimated budget of $230 million. However, the project started having significant delays and cost overruns, driving up the budget to $580 million.
The project was halted in May 2017, leading to an extended legal dispute between New York Wheel Owner LLC (developer) and the original contractor, where both parties filed lawsuits against each other. The contractor also filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, while pressuring for the sale of Ferris wheel components valued at $68 million to cover its costs. Obviously, this further increased tension between both parties.
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When announced in 2012, the New York Wheel was the tallest Ferris wheel planned for construction globally, but the Ain Dubai now surpasses it with a height of 689 ft. Nevertheless, the New York Wheel is still a massive project, where each of the 36 capsules weighs 30,000 pounds and can hold up to 40 visitors. The wheel will provide an impressive view of the New York Harbor area and the skyline of surrounding cities.
An Agreement is Reached in May 2018
After a one-year long pause, the New York Wheel could soon resume construction, thanks to a court settlement in May 2018, giving the developer 120 days to secure financing and hire a new contractor. The job has been awarded to American Bridge, a construction firm with more than a century of experience.
The New York Wheel is expected to draw more tourists to Staten Island, which gets much less visitors than other NYC districts. The project will achieve synergy with the adjacent Empire Outlets, the first outlet mall in the city, with a planned opening in fall 2018. The mall will have over 100 stores, creating an estimated 1,200 jobs, where at least 60% of the staff will be composed of local residents. The project also includes:
- 190-room hotel with a 20,000 sq.ft. event venue
- 1,250-space parking area
- 30,000 sq.ft. for food and beverage businesses
- 5,000 sq.ft. rooftop event venue.
The New York Wheel and Empire Outlets are two among many projects in the St. George Waterfront District. The area has received over $1.6 billion in development investment, and the following are some of the main projects:
- Richmond County Savings Bank Ballpark
- Lighthouse Point
- St. George Historic Theatre
- Snug Harbor Cultural Center
Although tens of thousands of visitors take the ferry between Manhattan and Staten Island each day, they are normally interested in the harbor area and the Statue of Liberty. The development projects in Staten Island could make the island itself attractive for tourists.