Updated 10/10/2012 12:38 AM
Plans For Wheel, Mall At St. George Ferry Terminal Taking Shape
The revitalization of the Coney Island boardwalk was one of the most closely-watched redevelopment projects in the city's history. Now, the city is trying to do it again on Staten Island, with plans to build the world's tallest observation wheel and the city's first outlet mall. NY1's Amanda Farinacci filed the following report.
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Building the world's largest observation wheel at the foot of the St. George Ferry Terminal on Staten Island might seem a bit far-fetched. But plans for the wheel and the city's first outlet mall nearby are finally taking shape.
"This will give that shot in the arm for Staten Island," said Lynn Kelly, the former president of the Coney Island Local Development Corporation.
Kelly is now the executive director of the Snug Harbor Cultural Center. She said there's lots to be learned from Coney Island's transformation, starting with what she said was its biggest obstacle.
"There was a lot of misinformation about parking, about traffic, about residential and the reality was, there was no residential," she says. "It was just misinformation and I think it's the same thing with the wheel."
Estimates are that the wheel could attract more than 4.5 million people a year. Residents and business owners are already worried about parking and traffic congestion in the St. George area.
Businesses near the terminal are also asking how they can benefit from some of the money tourists are likely to spend. Kelly said developers would do well to spend time in the community.
"Get to know their concerns one-on-one because at the end of the day, my opinion is that what will make or break this will be the word of mouth on Staten Island," she said.
Kelly said she hopes a marketing plan for the observation wheel begins in Manhattan at transit hubs and hotels. She also said any marketing plan should include information about other Staten Island cultural spots worth visiting.
"Once they're on the ferry, it's almost too late," she said.
The city estimates that 30,000 people will check out the wheel every day. Staten Island's cultural attractions are hoping to see some of them.