The last of the concrete has been poured for the New York Wheel, the 630-foot-tall Ferris wheel under construction next to the Staten Island Ferry Terminal in St. George. After four years of delays, CEO Rich Marin and his crew of investors are ready to start building the huge tourist attraction on the island’s North Shore.
The actual wheel structure will begin rising this summer and is scheduled to open in late 2017. The final concrete pour happened Saturday on the 150-by-30-foot foundation, according to a press release from Gilbane Building Company, which is overseeing construction.
Marin and a group of local politicians also buried a time capsule in the foundation, which included a $10,000 gift certificate from Empire Outlets (the sprawling commercial complex rising on the other side of the ferry terminal), a copy of that day’s Staten Island Advance, and a jar of honey produced by on-site beekeepers at nearby residential complex Urby Staten Island, among other things. Apparently it will be opened in 630 years, to reflect the height of the wheel.
The Wheel’s backers predict that it’ll attract 3.5 million visitors a year, beating out the Statue of Liberty, which attracts 2.5 million tourists annually. Marin remains optimistic about the attraction’s future, although two comparably expensive giant Ferris wheels, the London Eye and the High Roller in Las Vegas, fell far short of their planned revenues and ridership.
The construction of the Wheel comes just as the city considers rezoning Bay Street, a commercial corridor on the North Shore where only industrial and manufacturing uses are currently allowed in new construction. Locals in Tompkinsville and Stapleton – the two neighborhoods set to be transformed under the new zoning – appreciate the new investment and city funding, because City Hall has neglected the area for decades. But they’re wary of the Wheel, which exploits the neighborhood’s nice views of New York Harbor while offering little in return except congestion and tax revenues.
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