Thursday, October 31, 2013

City Approves Giant Staten Island Ferris Wheel

The New York City Council has approved a plan for a Ferris wheel on Staten Island that's billed as the world's largest. The project approved Wednesday would feature a 625-foot Ferris wheel with a view of the Statue of Liberty, New York Harbor and the Manhattan skyline. Some late wheeling and dealing resulted in an agreement that construction of the Empire Outlets project -- 1 million square feet of mixed-use space with an outlet shopping center -- will be built with 100% union labor. The deal will dramatically reshape the St. George waterfront. Construction of the New York Wheel is expected to begin in 2014, with a grand opening in 2016.

What will be the world's tallest observation Ferris wheel - adjacent to the shopping center - will be largely constructed off-site before being erected on the waterfront.

Combined, the two projects will represent roughly $580 million in private investment and attract what its supporters claim will be 4 million new visitors a year to the area. Empire Outlets is to consist of 80 stores, generally higher-end retailers.

Mayor Bloomberg called it a "momentous day for Staten Island," saying it will create 2,000 jobs and draw millions of visitors each year.  (see ElectricWeb | Blogger, May 2, 2013)

The project will result in the creation of a 625-foot-high observation wheel, the world's tallest, and will include restaurant space, a 200-room hotel, two 4D theaters, a catering facility, an exhibition hall and parking facilities. The 16-acre site currently features at-grade parking lots.

The Empire Outlets and New York Wheel developments flank the Richmond County Bank Ballpark, home of the minor league Staten Island Yankees, and rise from the site of two large surface parking lots at the ferry landing.

SHoP Architects designed the $230 million mixed-use outlet mall-entertainment-hotel complex at Empire Outlets to relate to the surrounding Staten Island community while still providing a monumental presence on the waterfront and ferry landing.

The Ferris wheel on the north side of the ballpark will take the world’s tallest title, topping the current title holder, the Singapore Flyer, by 84 feet and dwarfing other iconic wheels like the London Eye which stands just over 440 feet tall. The $250 million wheel will contain 36 football-shaped pods carrying 40 passengers each for the 38 minute ride.
(see ElectricWeb | Blogger, Sept 27, 2012)

Differences over labor agreements for construction of Empire Outlets appeared to pose the greatest risk to the larger redevelopment of St. George.

BFC executives had maintained in recent weeks that the economics of their proposal did not allow for fully-unionized construction, even if unions were to submit to a project-labor agreement offering cost savings from the typical unionized project with its complex work rules and robust wages.

The developer's stance makes the terms of this 11th-hour surprising, but indications are that government funding was added to the deal to help offset the cost of union labor. (see ElectricWeb | Blogger, July 1, 2012)

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