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Giant Wheel, Still Unbuilt, Is Seen As Staten Island's Savior

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People might as well start calling the 630-foot-tall observation wheel that will open on the north shore of Staten Island in 2017 the Staten Island Savior, because that's how it's being billed (at least by the Times and its interviewees.) "What's great is that people do come to Staten Island; they just have nothing to get off the ferry for," the executive director of the Center For an Urban Future told the paper, saying that the observation wheel, and its accompanying outlet mall and hotel will finally give the 2 million tourists who ride the ferry for giggles a reason to leave the terminal. Forget the big-money sponsors the wheel is pursuing—promotional material in the New York Wheel's office advertises The Bloomberg Wheel, which the group's marketing officer says was merely printed as tribute to the former billionaire mayor who championed the project—and don't even think about the wheel's $35 ticket; its EB-5 financing program, in which Chinese families can invest with the hope of getting an expedited visa, has been so successful that the wheel's already being considered a sure hit. It's financed. Staten Island is ready to shed the reputation that it "never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity."

Before the wheel can start pulling crowds from across New York Harbor, it has to be be designed, shipped, and "erected like a giant K'nex project." Getting the thing into place won't be as easy as 1, 2, 3. The Times explains what's going to happen,

When all the parts are ready, which should happen early next year, they will be shipped to New York and placed on broad dollies, then rolled onto barges. Tugboats will deliver the loads to a pier that will extend 190 feet into the harbor, according to an application to the Army Corps. The parts will be rolled down the 33-foot-wide pier to a crane at the water's edge that will lift them into place. The custom-designed wheel will share more likeness with the London Eye or High Roller in Las Vegas than a standard-issue boardwalk Ferris wheel because of its custom fabrication. When complete, the wheel will have 36 cabins that will be able to hold up to 40 people each and could even be used for parties or corporate events. A ride on the wheel will take a half hour. The city's marketing organization is calling the whole shebang—wheel, outlet, hotel and all—"Destination St. George" (although we'd argue that St. George has been a destination at least since it won the illustrious Curbed Cup.) It will, its supporters think, finally put Staten Island on the map.
· Betting on the New York Wheel to Elevate Staten Island's Fortunes [NYT]
· All Staten Island Observation Wheel coverage [Curbed]