NYC still has no plan for vacant New York Wheel site, six months after project was terminated

Posted On Wed, May 1, 2019 By

Posted On Wed, May 1, 2019 By In Policy, Staten Island

Via New York Wheel

The city has not put forth a plan for the vacant Staten Island site of the New York Wheel, a project which was called off last year after nearly a decade of planning. According to the Staten Island Advance, the city’s Economic Development Corporation, which oversees the property, has not released any request for proposals for the site. Construction of the project, sold as the world’s tallest Ferris wheel, was halted two years ago when the contractor walked off site over unpaid bills. Last October, with $450 million already invested, the project was called off.

At an unrelated press conference on Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said planning efforts have just started for the site.

“It’s a site we can do a lot with for the good of Staten Island and there’s some real interesting ideas whether it should be focused on economic development, job creation, whether it should be public space or some combination, but the process has really only begun,” de Blasio said.

The privately funded Wheel project, which originally had an October 2016 opening, ran into funding issues and problems with its design team. When contractor Mammoet-Starneth walked off the job in June of 2017, the developer, New York Wheel LLC, filed a lawsuit claiming the waterfront revitalization of Staten Island was put at risk.

Filing for bankruptcy, Mammoet-Starnet had attempted to auction about $68 million worth of wheel parts, as it cost them $700,000 per month to store them. The bankruptcy court ordered the developer to pay nearly $2 million in storage costs.

The price tag for the Ferris wheel also soared over the years, jumping from a projected $250 million to most recently around $1 billion. In a last-ditch effort, the developer had asked the city to provide tax-exempt bonds to help get construction restarted. But de Blasio refused, saying the project was not economically viable.

The SI Advance also learned that the New York Wheel developer has not terminated its lease agreement with the city and still owes deferred rent. The rent is $1 million each year plus interest, deferred until Nov. 21, 2021. Because the lease remains active, the developer still is accountable for the deferred rent, which totals more than $2.3 million.

[Via Staten Island Advance]

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