The New York City Economic Development Corporation is in heavy negotiations with a company to build a giant observation wheel — bigger than famous tourist attraction the London Eye and the world’s largest wheel, the Singapore Flyer — on a parcel near the ferry terminal, according to the report by Staten Island Advance.
Negotiations are in the works of creating a giant 600 ft Ferris wheel near the Staten Island Ferry Terminal to generate activity for the waterfront. The ferris wheel will be bigger than the Singapore Flyer at 451 feet and the London Eye’s 450 ft marker, and much bigger than Coney Island’s Wonder Wheel at 150 feet.
“It’s the greatest thing that has been proposed for Staten Island, especially on the waterfront. This could landmark us. We have 2 million tourists a year on the ferry, so we have a built-in audience to use it, and it’s a different audience every day. Once you can attract them off that boat, you got them here,” James Molinaro, the borough president, said.
The investor group, Plaza Capital Group Management, responded to an August 2011 request for bids from New York City’s Economic Development Corp. to develop two parking lots next to the terminal and on both sides of the Staten Island Yankees stadium. Plaza plans to develop the site furthest from the ferry terminal to the northwest, the people briefed on the proposal told The Wall Street Journal.
No deal has been reached yet, and a spokesman for the EDC, Benjamin Branham, said that the agency is “in negotiations with multiple respondents” for the two sites. Any development would need approval from the City Council.
“We received several compelling responses to the RFEI and are in active negotiations with multiple respondents as we work toward unlocking the significant economic development potential of these two important sites on Staten Island’s North Shore,” NYCEDC spokesman Kyle Sklerov said.
The area around the ferry terminal has long been run down, and there’s little retail or entertainment other than the minor league ballpark.
“It’s really hard to think of another place in New York City that has fallen so short of its potential for economic development,” said Jonathan Bowles, the center’s director. “There’s no reason why you can’t get significantly more tourists to stay on Staten Island for half an hour, or an hour.”
Arch Daily reports that if the Ferris Wheel were to be approved, riders would enjoy an hour-and-twenty-minute ride for a full rotation on the wheel. Outfitted with glass capsules, much like the London Eye, the wheel would rotate so slowly that people could easily step into the capsules as they pass through a building beneath the wheel.
The ferris wheel proposed for the waterfront would be designed in the same vein as very popular tourist attractions like the London Eye and the Singapore Flyer.
The Singapore Flyer takes the gourmet Ferris wheel experience even further, offering full butler sky dining for $299 a couple — that pays for two rotations, or about an hourlong ride; and four courses of food with dessert, coffee and tea served in the capsule.
The London Eye is located on the banks of the Thames River, and boasts 32 air-conditioned passenger capsules, each of which can carry 25 people. A trip around the wheel takes about 30 minutes, and the wheel doesn’t stop — riders step into the gondolas as they move, like a ski lift.
Capsules are also available to rent for private parties — including a wedding package that allows the bride, groom and 19 guests to take two consecutive rides and pop a bottle of champagne on the way down.
Both of those ferris wheels attract millions of tourists annually — the London Eye carries 3.5 million visitors a year. The wheel here could have a built-in audience: The Staten Island Ferry carries 2 million tourists annually, most of whom get back on the boat without spending any time in the borough.