It’s been a rough year for Staten Island’s $590 million observation wheel. In May, construction on the 630-foot attraction was halted when developer New York Wheel LLC cut loose design-build team Mammoet-Starneth for allegedly walking off the project. Since then, the project has been “indefinitely delayed” and while the developers are allegedly in “advanced negotiations” to lock in a new contractor, construction remains stalled.
Given all that has taken place, Crain’s decided to take a look at what it would take for the New York Wheel to get on its feet financially. One of the biggest takeaways: the wheel would need to attract around 3 million visitors annually at $35 each for the $590 million project to pay off.
If 3 million sounds like a lot, that’s because it is: the Empire State Building, for instance, gets around that number, give or take a few thousand, every year—and that’s the Empire State Building, which has the benefit of a central location and iconic status.
It’s also less than the 4 million visitors that developers are confident the wheel will attract once constructed. But NYC Economic Development Corporation is confident that new projects taking shape on the North Shore, including a new outlet mall, will help draw visitors.
Others aren’t as convinced. “I mean, 4 million people? No way,” a theme park consultant told Crain’s.