Tuesday, May 28, 2013

$300M Ferris Wheel, Mall Begin City Review Process

Staten Island’s proposed Empire Outlets development project – and an accompanying 630-foot, $300 million Ferris wheel – have entered the city’s six-month Universal Land Use Review Procedure. If the zoning changes and permits required for the construction of the development and giant wheel are granted, Brooklyn developer BFC Partners plans to break ground on the one-million-square-foot complex late next year.

The wheel is part of a larger project being underwritten by the city's Economic Development Corp. that also includes the first outlet mall in the five boroughs. The developers will need to wait until after the six-month review process before construction can commence.

The development and outlet mall will reportedly feature 125 designer retail outlets, a 200-room hotel, restaurants, a playground, expansive water views and a sustainable six-acre roof visible from the harbor.

The New York Wheel, by a developer of the same name, concurrently entered the city's review process. With an estimated cost of $300 million, it is slated to become the second largest Ferris wheel in the world, featuring a 100,000-square-foot visitor’s center and parking garage.

It will rank as the second largest Ferris wheel in the world once it is complete, with the recently-announced Dubai Eye slated to become the tallest, rising 688 feet with a price tag of $1.6 billion.

The wheel may create an issue with condo owners living uphill from the project because they've long enjoyed unobstructed views of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. The New York Wheel design team has worked to keep the structure slim and unobtrusive, but the wheel is designed to light up at night.

A big part of the reason the city is pursuing the wheel and the neighboring outlet mall project is to get the 20 million tourists who ride the Staten Island ferry each year to actually stick around rather than simply re-board the ferry and return to Manhattan.