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Residents Fear Staten Island Ferris Wheel Will Block Their View

By Nicholas Rizzi | November 14, 2012 9:20am

LIVINGSTON — Developers claim Staten Island's planned Ferris Wheel will offer the city's most breathtaking views, but for some residents it's expected to destroy what they already have.

At a meeting Tuesday, residents complained to developers that their existing downtown and water views were be obliterated by the world's biggest wheel.

"But what about my view?" asked Ruth Levy, a longtime resident on Richmond Terrace, as developer Rich Marin showed diagrams of the New York Wheel's proposed design in Snug Harbor Cultural Center.

Theo Dorian, president of the St. George Civic Association, said the views of Manhattan were one of the neighborhood's greatest features.

"This is probably the single most important aspect of our community," Dorian said. "It's very precious to the people here."

During his presentation, Marin said the view from St. George of the wheel with lower Manhattan in the background will become the iconic view of New York's waterfront.

"We believe that this will become the money shot for New York City in years to come," Marin said.

"This will become the best view in New York harbor."

However, Levy said the view will block what she currently sees from her apartment, and she doubts it would put Staten Island at the center of tourists' itineraries.

"I don't think it's sensible," she said. "The tourists take the ferry to see the Statue of Liberty because it's free. They don't want to get off the ferry."

When built, the 625-feet New York Wheel will be the world's largest observation wheel, eclipsing both the London Eye and the Singapore Flyer.

Next door to the project, a nearly half-a-million foot retail outlet, Harbor Common, a 200-room hotel and parking lots are also planned.

Developers for the mall, BFC Partners, said that there will be open corridors to the waterfront to try and keep the views for residents on Richmond Terrace.

Other residents worried that because of Hurricane Sandy, the wheel will be susceptible to damage if a similar storm hits.

"Look at what happened to the crane on 57th Street," said David Goldfarb, land use chairman for the St. George Civic Association. "What's going to be destroyed if [the wheel] comes down?"

While the developers did not respond to the question during the forum, Marin said in his presentation that they made sure to pay attention to the wheel's strength during a storm, and said it would actually help make the North Shore safer.

"We've spent a lot of time looking at addressing our sites in light of recent storm," Marin said.

"It actually will add to the protection of the North Shore."

During his presentation, Marin also outlined some specifics about the project. The wheel will be able to carry about 1,440 passengers on an estimated 38-minute ride.

The New York Wheel will also have a small retail space and exhibition space for artists, something local gallery owner, Gary Brant, said he was pushing to open at the site.

Both the wheel and Harbor Commons, which are sharing a public review process, will be built on parking lots for the ferry, and both developers said the projects will add more spaces for cars in the neighborhood.

Marin said that both sites plan to break ground in 2014, with construction expected to be completed by 2016.

Both projects are currently drafting their environmental impact study, which will also be subjected to public comment, before they go up before the city's review process, ULURP.