Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced plans Thursday to build the world's tallest Ferris wheel along Staten Island's north shore.
The project is slated for a 14-acre site that's currently a parking lot near the Richmond County Bank Ballpark and Staten Island Ferry in St. George.
As planned, the “New York Wheel” will soar 625 feet above the St. George waterfront, making it almost half as high as the Empire State Building.
The wheel will have 36 capsules. Each capsule will be able to carry 40 people, allowing 1,000 people on per ride and up to 30,000 riders per day. It will offer 30-minute rides every day.
The wheel is modeled after the London Eye Ferris wheel that quickly became a must-see tourist attraction there, as it is expected to do here.
“It is a game changer for Staten Island and I think for New York Harbor,” said Richard Marin, the president and CEO of New York Wheel. “What makes it great is first and foremost that it’s on one of the most spectacular harbors in the world. And it's got the best view of the best part of the harbor, which is Lower Manhattan, Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and the Brooklyn Bridge.”
For years, the city struggled with how to get some of the two million tourists who ride the Staten Island Ferry each year off the boat and onto the island.
“It already has the tourist infrastructure in place at the Staten Island ferry, which means the site comes complete with two million-plus visitors a year,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The wheel, which will go up on city-owned land, is not the only addition Staten Island is getting. Harbor Commons, the city's first outlet mall, will be built in hopes of sparking consumer tourism. The mall plans to include 75 outlet retailers, a hotel, banquet hall, underground parking and waterfront restaurants.
The city's Economic Development Corporation said it is already working on a plan to make sure the entire North Shore and not just the ferry terminal area benefits from the plan.
The project is expected to create more than 2,000 jobs, roughly half of which will be permanent positions.
“We're going to be working on new programs to fill vacant retail space in the current sections of downtown St. George. So that, again, will pull people out of this area and into the island,” said Seth Pinsky, the president of the New York City Economic Development Corporation.
Developers hope to break ground on both projects in 2014 and ring in the 2015 New Year with the New York Wheel and the outlet mall soon after.