Thursday, September 27, 2012

Staten Island to Get World's Tallest Ferris Wheel

Staten Island's ferry terminal will be getting the world's tallest Ferris wheel as well as a little something next door along the north shore waterfront—a huge retail outlet mall and 200 room hotel. The two projects will spur a total of $480 million in private investment and create more than 1,200 construction and 1,100 permanent jobs.

The New York Wheel, which will rise 625 feet high and surpass the London Eye and Singapore Flyer in height, will be built on a city-owned site north of the Richmond County Bank Ballpark in St. George.

Meanwhile, south of the ballpark local developer BFC Partners will invest $230 million to build Harbor Commons, an outlet mall of up to 350,000 square feet with 100 stores, a 1,250-car garage, and a 200-room hotel replete with a 15,000 square foot banquet facility.

Both sites are currently used for parking. The two projects will spur a total of $480 million in private investment and create more than 1,200 construction and 1,100 permanent jobs.
"Our Administration has made major investments all along the North Shore of Staten Island, because we know this area is full of potential for economic growth," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in a statement. "But this newest plan is the most exciting of all. The New York Wheel will be an attraction unlike any other in New York City—even unlike any other on the planet. It will offer unparalleled and breathtaking views, and is sure to become one of the premier attractions in New York City and the latest exciting addition to our newly revitalized waterfront."
The wheel, which will operate year-round, will boast 36 capsules each carrying up to 40 passengers for rides that last up to 38 minutes. Netherlands-based Starneth, which worked on the London Eye, and Perkins Eastman will be the architects, engineers and designers of the wheel. The wheel is expected to attract as many as 30,000 riders per day during the peak season and 4.5 million people a year. At the base of the wheel will be a 100,000 square foot building with commercial, retail and exhibition space. It will apply for Platinum LEED certification and have a 950-space parking garage with a green roof.
"The New York Wheel is destined to become one of the City's—and the world's—great landmark attractions," said Richard Marin, president and CEO of the New York Wheel, an investor group that the city has partnered with to build the wheel.
Harbor Commons will be designed by SHoP Architects and managed and marketed by EWB Development, a provider of outlet mall services, and Staten Island-based brokerage Casandra Properties.

"As the first ever designer outlet complex in New York City, the development of Harbor Commons will provide a once in a lifetime opportunity for specialty retailers to expand their stake in the most vibrant market in the country," said Donald Capoccia, managing principal and founder of BFC Partners.

New York Wheel and BFC have signed 99-year leases with the city and combined they will pay $2.5 million a year in rent to the city. That rent is expected to increase when the ride opens and when certain revenue goals are met. Both developers will also contribute $300,000 to upkeep and maintain the waterfront esplanade.

Construction on Harbor Commons and the hotel are expected to begin late next year with a 2016 completion date, according to BFC. The New York Wheel is aiming for a grand opening by early 2016.