|New York Wheel|
Site of the New York Wheel, seen in June 2018
|Location||Staten Island, New York City|
|Cost||2012 estimate: $230 million|
2013 estimate: $330 million
2014 estimate: $400 million
2016 estimate: $590 million
2018 estimate: $900 million
|Height||630 ft (192.0 m)|
|Design and construction|
|Developer||New York Wheel LLC|
|Main contractor||Mammoet-Starneth LLC|
The New York Wheel is a proposed 630-foot-tall (190 m) giant Ferris wheel to be located at St. George in Staten Island, New York City. If built, it is to be located alongside the site of the proposed Empire Outlets retail complex. The project was first announced in 2012 as part of an initiative to make St. George into a tourist attraction.
The project was canceled by investors in September 2018 due in large part to lack of support from the New York City government, as well as a lack of funding. New York City mayor Bill de Blasio refused to endorse bonds citing it as too risky, and a speculative project which was supposed to be entirely privately funded. However, as of May 2019[update], there are discussions about whether to proceed with construction of a smaller New York Wheel.
In October 2008, Meir Laufer, the developer behind the New York Wheel, traveled to experience the London Eye and met with its lead engineer. He established a business relationship with them to bring a wheel to New York. On September 27, 2012, at a press conference headed by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former New York Wheel CEO Richard Marin announced that a deal has been worked out and the wheel would be located at the St. George Waterfront District.
In announcing the New York Wheel, city mayor Michael Bloomberg issued a statement that read: "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."
Construction of the wheel was originally supposed to start in the beginning of 2014 and end in 2015, but this was pushed back several times. In April 2013, it was reported to be July 4, 2016. On June 12, 2013 construction was approved by Staten Island Community Board 1, and on October 30 it was also approved by New York City Council, with construction to start in early 2014 and a grand opening planned for 2016, but as of October 2014, construction was planned to start in early 2015 with an opening date for early 2017. On December 11, 2014, state economic development officials excluded the proposal from a list of 824 projects selected for state funding under a regional economic development program, saying it would not provide the overall economic benefit needed to qualify, however a spokesman for the project said it would continue to move forward. By August 2016, the Ferris wheel was estimated to open in early 2018, and by March, the proposed completion date was late 2019.
In January 2016, The Real Deal, citing mounting lawsuits by infighting members, ran an article skeptical on the project's future titled "Is the New York Wheel spinning out of control?" The design and construction teams were fired from the project in July 2017. As a result, construction was postponed indefinitely. New York Wheel LLC announced in August that it planned to engage American Bridge Company as the new contractor. Construction still did not start, however, and the developers filed for bankruptcy in Delaware in December 2017. As part of the bankruptcy agreement, developer New York Wheel LLC and contractor Mammoet-Starneth agreed to find funding by September 5, 2018, with the proviso that the project would be canceled if funding was not found before that date.
In May 2018, the developers of the New York Wheel were given a last chance to obtain funding for the project. As per a ruling in Delaware bankruptcy court, the developers had 120 days, or until September 5, to find funding. However, on September 7, 2018, it was announced that the New York Wheel would not receive $140 million in city funding. The delays caused concern among EB-5 visa investors, who would lose their visas if the project was not constructed. An amendment to the bankruptcy court's ruling gave the developers a final 120-day extension to look for funding. If the developers did not get funding by January 2019, the project would be canceled and no further funding extensions would be given. At the time, the developers were spending $400,000 a month to store the parts for the New York Wheel.
On September 21, 2018, mayor Bill de Blasio said that the now-$900-million project would not receive a bailout from the city because it was too risky to support the project with bonds. As such, the city would not support tax free status for a $380 million bond sale to complete the project. Investors refused to proceed with construction without city support, and stated that it would allow the parts for the Ferris wheel to be auctioned off if the city did not provide funding. Subsequently, investors decided to cancel the project. At this point, investors had spent $450 million on the project. The official announcement of the project's cancellation was made the following month.
However, the developers never terminated their lease with the city, which was still ongoing through November 2021. According to the lease agreement, the developers were to pay the city annually $1 million in rent, plus interest. though these would be deferred. By December 2018, the deferred payment amounted to $2.3 million. In May 2019, it was announced that the developers were seeking new investors for a smaller wheel on the site, and that the NYCEDC was in talks with potential investors. In August, the Staten Island Advance reported that Wheel investors and EB-5 visa investors were "actively pursuing a smaller project more like the London Eye."
Design and construction
The designated designer and manufacturer was Mammoet-Starneth LLC, which had team members who worked on the London Eye. The New York Wheel was to have 36 passenger capsules (which were to be built by the Dutch company VDL Groep), each carrying up to 40 passengers, and a total maximum capacity of 1,440 people per ride. Bloomberg's office has expected up to 30,000 passengers per day and about 4.5 million per year.
The wheel was expected to create 400 construction jobs and 700 full-time jobs. Four large pedestals for the wheel arrived on site in November 2016. Legs for the wheel arrived in spring 2018. Following the announcement of the Wheel's cancellation in late 2018, the completed portions of the wheel (namely its legs, drive towers, and capsules) were auctioned in January 2019.
The New York Wheel public parking garage opened on August 12, 2016. Planned to accommodate commuters using the Staten Island Ferry, this waterfront garage originally accommodated 820 vehicles, expanding to 950 spaces upon completion of construction.
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