Staten Island’s $590 million observation wheel is supposed to be the linchpin of the North Shore’s redevelopment, but the project has been plagued by difficulties and lawsuits over the last several months.
Construction on the 630-foot wheel, once poised to be the largest in the world, has been rife with issues. Court filings cited by the Post show that complaints have been filed by city inspectors about “bad welds” on the wheel’s 500-ton legs—and that’s the least of its problems. The pad on which the wheel was supposed to sit has been marked as “defective,” and an incorrect attachment has been ID’d between the wheel and the defective pad.
The Post says that in late May a pay dispute between developer New York Wheel LLC—helmed by Rich Marin and Meir Laufer of Plaza Capital Group Management—drove members of design team Mammoet-Starneth to walk off the site, breaching their $165 million contract. Following, the developer accused the designer of “two years of self-inflicted delays and extortionate attempts to extract additional payments totaling more than 50 percent of the agreed contract price.”
A consultant for the developer is blaming the construction hiccup on Mammoet-Starneth’s choice of fabricators for the 500-ton legs, saying they were not on a list of contractors approved by the Department of Buildings. The designer is also playing the blame game, saying the developer is responsible for the defective pad.
In court, a lawyer for the developer pled to keep the case quiet, saying “When the world knows that [the] project has been stopped, whether you call it suspension or termination or withdrawal, that is the death knell for the project.” Touché.
The New York Wheel was originally poised to open this year, but as of now is supposed to poised to open in April 2018.