New York Wheel construction grinds to a halt after designer walks off the job

June 26, 2017

The New York Wheel, Staten Island’s under-construction 630-foot Ferris wheel, has been plagued with cost overruns (it’s gone from a $230 to $590 million project), delays, and skepticism from the beginning, and it appears that these missteps have finally come to a head. The Post reports that the project’s design team, European company Mammoet-Starneth who was also responsible for the London Eye, walked off the job in late May and threatened to terminate their contract after they “got into a bitter pay dispute with the developer.” The New York Wheel LLC then filed a federal suit claiming that halting work was putting the borough’s waterfront revitalization at stake and that Mammoet is responsible for “extortionate” billing, “defective” equipment, and shoddy, dangerous construction.

New York Wheel, Staten Island Ferris Wheel, New York Wheel legsPhoto from the October 2016 arrival of the four legs to the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal

The developer’s lawyer, former Deputy Mayor Randy Mastro, asked federal Judge Edgardo Ramos to help keep the matter quiet. “When the world knows that [the] project has been stopped, whether you call it suspension or termination or withdrawal, that is the death knell for the project,” he said. But the Staten Island Advance uncovered the court filings last week, which claim that for the past two years, Mammoet has made “self-inflicted delays and extortionate attempts to extract additional payments totaling more than 50 percent of the agreed [$145 million] contract price.” The New York Wheel says it’s lost $20 million in profits after having to the increase the contract amount to keep the project afloat and that it’s suffered more than $16 million in damages resulting from the delays.

Among the problems cited by the Wheel are bad welds on the four, 500-ton legs that will hold the structure up (these massive legs arrived in New York Harbor this past October). They claim that Mammoet’s choice of manufacturer for the legs isn’t on the Department of Building’s approved list, therefore creating permit delays and “nonconformities that required remediation.” Mammoet is arguing that the Wheel built a faulty pad upon which the ride will sit, a “wrong” attachment between the wheel and the pad, and “insufficient soil support and parts that don’t work.”

Photo from the November 2016 arrival of the two pedestals to Staten Island

In response to the claims, on June 12th, the two sides agreed to a 30-day mediation period that will end in mid-July. During this time, Mammoet will work with the DOB to legalize the legs, which the agency told the Advance have “a minor problem with a weld.” But if the parties can’t resolve their issues, they’ll have to appear before a judge on July 17th for a formal hearing.

A spokesman for Mammoet refused to comment, but New York Wheel LLC spokesperson Cristyne Nicholas said, “The developer has honored all of its contractual obligations and is committed to getting this unique project completed to the benefit of all stakeholders, public and private. While it is not uncommon for contractors to engage in such tactics, we are confident that this issue will get satisfactorily resolved, through negotiation or through the court action that the developer has filed. The developer intends to continue to do everything possible to keep this one-of-a-kind project moving forward.”

The New York Wheel, which will be the world’s tallest Ferris wheel, was originally supposed to open in October of 2016 but has been pushed back to the spring of 2018. More than three million people are expected to patronize the new amusement annually.

[Via NYP and Staten Island Advance]


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  1. C

    “More than three million people are expected to patronize the new amusement annually.”

    Defective welds and “shotty” (“shoddy”?) construction might be off-putting.

  2. T

    Gift Elephant

  3. L

    This will NOT be the world’s tallest ferris wheel, even if it finally ever is completed. The world’s tallest will be the Dubai Eye, larger, and finished in 2017. Please don’t take the developer’s word for anything in this matter. Can you qualify where that “more than 3 million people” figure comes from?
    By the way, the phrase you want is “shoddy,” not shotty.