Six months after the deal for Staten Island’s Ferris wheel came to a stop—after many ups and downs—plans for a new wheel could be in motion, albeit in a scaled-down form.
According to NY1 and the Staten Island Advance, citing unnamed sources, the New York City Economic Development Corporation has held meetings in recent weeks with stakeholders in the ill-fated project, who have pitched a smaller wheel—closer to the size of London’s Eye, as opposed to the 630-foot-tall one that was originally pitched—as one possibility for the site. Such an attraction could use the structural supports that are already in place, according to NY1. (NYCEDC did not immediately return a request for comment.)
Plans for the Wheel were in the works for seven years, but the project—which was an ambitious venture from the jump—was held up by an extended timeline, funding woes, lawsuits, and allegations of faulty construction. The cost of the project also swelled over time, from $250 million to more than $1 billion (and around $450 million had already been spent to put its base in place).
The developer, New York Wheel LLC, had asked the city for help in getting the project done, but the de Blasio administration declined to get involved. Without that investment, the developer pulled the plug last fall.
Burt the developer is still on the hook for rent at the site of the aborted wheel, which currently holds a concrete plinth and completed parking garage. According to the Advance, the lease agreement with NYCEDC calls for a rent of “$1 million annually, plus interest, and it’s deferred until Nov. 21, 2021.”
The Wheel was “poised to be the beacon on the horizon that told the rest of New York City that Staten Island was ready for them,” as Curbed’s Zoe Rosenberg wrote last year; along with projects like Empire Outlets, which recently opened, and Lighthouse Point, it was seen as a linchpin in the transformation of Staten Island’s North Shore.
Local elected officials and other stakeholders have held onto hope that a new deal for the site could be reached. “I have not given up on seeing a Wheel built at this site—along with waterfront access, an open public park and community space,” Debi Rose, the City Council member who represents the area, told the Advance in February. “I am pursuing several avenues to identify parties who may be interested in reviving this project.”