Public Review Process Begins for Modified 625-Foot Staten Island Wheel Project [Updated]


Nearly two years after the City Council approved construction of a 625-foot-tall New York Wheel along the St. George Waterfront in Staten Island, the public review process has officially commenced for modifications to the plans, a spokeswoman for the New York City Department of City Planning confirmed to Commercial Observer.

The main tweak to the 2013 Wheel Special Permit is to “allow the design changes necessary to convert the development’s critical parking component from three levels to four levels [and 144,145 square feet to 119,746 square feet], thus maintaining identical parking capacity with a smaller footprint,” according to the application. The request for changes, filed in a land use review application last month, will head to the local community board for review later this month.

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Approved plans call for development of the Wheel, an accessory terminal building, a 950-space public parking facility, open space including a playground as well as improvements to Bank Street and the Esplanade Improvement Area.

The June document contends the reduced footprint is critical “due to the discovery of geotechnical conditions that render it impossible to provide adequate foundational support in one location beneath the footprint of the approved three-level parking facility.”

When the Wheel is complete in two years, New York Wheel at 155 Richmond Terrace will be 89 feet higher than the Singapore Flyer, currently the tallest observation wheel in the world. Foundation work has begun on the Wheel, which will have 36 capsules holding 1,440 people per ride, or 30,000 visitors daily, as CO previously reported. That means that more than 4 million visitors will ride the Wheel on an annual basis.

The Wheel, which is designed by Perkins Eastman and S9, a Perkins Eastman affiliate, is being financed by Lloyd Goldman, The Feil Organization, Joseph Nakash and 300 Chinese citizens seeking visas. Richard A. Marin, the president and chief executive officer of New York Wheel LLC, recently told The New York Times that it will cost $500 million to build. New York Wheel LLC is the tenant, developer and operator of the city-owned site through a long-term ground lease agreement dated Dec. 24, 2013.

“The plan maintains and actually expands upon its initial intention, which is to extend the public realm from Richmond Terrace to the waterfront, providing quality open space that will accommodate a wide range of uses in all seasons,” said Jonathan Cohn, the project manager at Perkins Eastman.

Navid Maqami, a design principal at S9, added: “Typically changes due to value engineering compromise a design, however, we responded to this as an opportunity to strengthen and enhance the design through focused simplification approach.”

Mr. Marin and BFC Partners, the developer of the 340,0000-square-foot waterfront Empire Outlets, are creating programming called “Destination St. George,” “a tourism campaign to help launch the North Shore of Staten Island as a worldwide visitor magnet for decades to come,” according to an email BFC’s spokeswoman previously sent to CO.

The mall’s soft opening will be at the end of 2016 with its grand opening in the first quarter of 2017, when the Wheel opens.

Update: This story has been edited to include comments from the Wheel’s designers.