With $450M invested, Staten Island’s New York Wheel is a no go

October 23, 2018

Staten Island’s New York Wheel project, SIAdvance reports, is dead. Cristyne Nicholas, a spokesperson for the project, has announced that the would-be world’s tallest Ferris wheel, dreamed up to anchor the redevelopment of the borough’s North Shore, will never be a reality. “After years of planning, the developers of The New York Wheel announce, with great disappointment, that the dream of building a world class attraction in Staten Island will unfortunately not come to fruition,” Nicholas said. Construction on the privately-funded project that has been in the works for over half a decade was halted in May of 2017.  $450 million had already been invested in the 630-foot Ferris wheel, which was originally scheduled to open in October of 2016. The total cost of the project was estimated at nearly $1 billion.

The latest snag was a court battle with former contractor Mammoet-Starneth over rights to the Wheel parts. In September the fraught project had filed a motion for an order approving an amendment in Delaware Bankruptcy Court that gave the project a standstill deadline of January 7, 2019. The amendment stated that if the Wheel had not ended the agreement by Tuesday, the developer would give up rights to the Wheel parts.

6sqft checked in on the project in May, when it was scrambling for funding to restart work. A bankruptcy court stipulation had given the project 120 days to find the required funds and hire a new contractor. That blow came after the project’s design team walked off the job last June amidst a “bitter pay dispute” with the developer. The project had been plagued by cost overruns and delays from the beginning, despite lofty ambitions of being a major revenue generator and attraction for Staten Island.

Though the project was being built on city-owned land, it was completely funded by private investors. The Wheel’s developers had recently asked the city to provide tax-exempt bonds to help get work started, but Mayor De Blasio refused to make the tax-free bonds available, saying that he didn’t think the project was economically viable.

Members of EB-5 immigrant investor program CanAm Enterprises, who made a $206 million investment in the project, said they will work to see their investors through the immigration process that was part of the deal.

Nicholas said, “The developers of The New York Wheel are proud to have delivered a state-of-the art, modern 325,000 square-foot garage structure, providing up to 950 deeply discounted commuter parking spaces, a turnaround area for 12 motor coach buses, and the MTA Railroad Right of Way decking to connect the site to Richmond Terrace, allowing pedestrian access to the waterfront along Bank Street that was previously shut off to the public.”

Stephanie Báez, senior vice president of public affairs for the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), said, “The NY Wheel was an ambitious venture. While the developers were unable to secure the necessary funding for this project, the city is committed to working with the community and local stakeholders to determine potential uses for the Wheel site.”

[Via SIAdvance]


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