Monday, September 22, 2014

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City Council Greenlights Staten Island Outlet Mall Development

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The City Council approved Wednesday the development of a Staten Island outlet mall and the construction of what would be the world's largest Ferris wheel. NY1's Amanda Farinacci filed the following report.

The City Council approved Wednesday plans for a 625-foot Ferris wheel, to be the world's tallest, and the city's first outlet mall, both on Staten Island.

"This is the biggest thing that ever happened to the North Shore of Staten Island," said City Councilwoman Debi Rose of Staten Island."

Approval of the transformative project came after months of contentious negotiations. 
The developer of the New York Wheel had always promised to use all union labor to build it, but BFC Partners, the developers of the Empire Outlet Mall, had long said they wanted to use union labor for only 15 percent of the expected 1,200 construction jobs that it will bring.

Thanks to a last-minute agreement between BFC and the Building and Construction Trades Council, the mall and hotel at the site will use all unionized labor.

"I think in the end of the day, everybody realized that it really made sense," said Lenore Freidlaender of Build Up NYC. "The economics of the project support having good jobs."

Sources say the about-face by BFC came through a cost-saving agreement with the labor unions. The developer would use all union labor if it got some break on the price. 

Developer Don Capoccia wouldn't comment on that, but expressed relief that the deal is done.

"This has been a long road," he said. "Where we've gotten to today is really just, it opens a new era for Staten Island, and we are more excited today with this project than we were when we thought this up a couple years ago."

"It's all come out where we wanted it to," said Rich Marin of NYC Wheel. "Unanimous vote in the subcommittee, the land use committee and the full council. It doesn't get better than that."

The $581 million private investment project will also come with $51 million in extras from the city for the island's North Shore. That includes funding for improved NYPD enforcement in the area, as well as $1 million for traffic mitigation.

"My concerns were first and foremost for my district and Staten Island," Rose said.

The project is expected to bring $100 million per year in revenue to the city. Both the wheel and the mall are expected to open in 2016.

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