The waterfront neighborhood of St. George on Staten Island will become more than just a turnaround point for tourists when a giant Ferris wheel is erected just steps away from the ferry terminal, giving riders the tallest such ride in the sky.
When completed, it will be larger than the Singapore Flyer and the London Eye.
"It is a phenomenal opportunity for Staten Island," said Michael Behar, chairman of the Downtown Staten Island Council.
"With the proximity to the city, having a tourist destination that's world class will be a major draw for tourists coming off the ferry ... and a phenomenal opportunity to introduce tourists to other cultural attractions on Staten Island."
Announced by Mayor Michael Bloomberg's office on Thursday, the development will also include Harbor Commons, a 470,000 square-foot complex with about 100 designer outlet shops and a 200-room hotel. The same team that built the London Eye will build the New York Wheel.
Construction is expected to begin on the wheel in 2014 with anticipated completion in 2015; the retail/hotel complex will break ground in winter of 2014 with a completion date of 2016. The $960-million dollar project will be financed by private investors, The New York Wheel LLC and BFC Partners, the retail partner.
The site is currently used as parking for the Richmond County Bank Ball Park, where the Staten Island Yankees play, and the ferry terminal.
The development is part of "Vision 2020: New York City Comprehensive Waterfront Plan," the city's 10-year schematic for some 520 miles of the city's shoreline, released last March.
THE FERRIS WHEEL AT ST. GEORGE
HEIGHT: 625 feet
RIDERS PER DAY: 30,000 (anticipated)
CARS: 36, each carrying 40 passengers
LENGTH OF RIDE: 38 minutes
JOBS: 419 construction and 426 permanent