City Council Approves World's Largest Ferris Wheel for Staten Island
CITY HALL — The world's largest Ferris wheel will come to Staten Island after the City Council unanimously approved the tourist attraction.
After an hours long delay while they hammered out final details, the council voted in support of the New York Wheel and Empire Outlets — which were on the same application — and added city funded improvements for the neighborhood.
"This is the biggest thing that ever happened to the North Shore of Staten Island," Councilwoman Debi Rose said.
"Over 2 million tourists take the ferry and they... turn right around and get back onto the ferry," she said. "Now they have a reason to get off of the ferry and we will no longer be the forgotten borough."
The 625-foot high wheel will be the tallest in the world when built, and was on the same application as the 200-room hotel and city's only outlet mall, which will both pump $580 million of private investment into St. George.
Aside from the outlet mall and Ferris wheel, the vote included $51 million from the city, which includes a $1 million traffic mitigation fund and free ridership to NYC school children on the wheel for the first year.
Other improvements added by the council also include money for a Greenway trail study and to replace the Cromwell Center, repairs to Richmond Terrace, plans for ferry service to Snug Harbor and $35 million in capital for new ferries.
Councilman James Oddo said the wheel will serve as the catalyst for the revitalization of the North Shore.
"Many of us, as Staten Islanders, have been waiting for the first domino to fall," he said. "It will start an amazing amount of investment in the the North Shore.
While the wheel was expected to win council support, Empire Outlets hit stumbling blocks before the vote over their developers, BFC Partners, initial decision to only partially use unionized labor.
The council reportedly sought to split the two and reject the mall, but on Tuesday night BFC reached an agreement with unions to use all union labor for the project.
"We are looking forward to building a project that will be a catalyst for the redevelopment of the North Shore, creating thousands of jobs for local residents and transforming Staten Island into a world-class destination for residents and tourists alike," Donald Capoccia, Principal BFC, said in a statement.
After the vote, wheel developer Rich Marin said he was happy with the decision and expects shovels to hit the ground for his project in 2014.
"It all came out where we wanted it," he said.