New York, NY, USA — Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has unveiled plans to transform Staten Island’s waterfront by building the world’s largest Ferris wheel along with a new retail complex and hotel on sites adjacent to Richmond County Bank Ballpark in St. George. The New York Wheel will be built just to the north of the ballpark and be 625 feet tall – 84 feet higher than the Singapore Flyer, currently the tallest Ferris wheel in the world. It will also be taller than the planned ‘High Roller’ wheel for the Las Vegas Strip, which is set to rise to 550 feet. The New York Wheel will be comprised of thirty-six capsules, each able to carry up to 40 passengers with a max capacity of 1,440 people per ride. The wheel is expected to welcome as many as 30,000 riders per day during peak season and an estimated 4.5 million visitors per year. The Mayor also announced plans by BFC Partners to construct Harbor Commons, a 350,000-square-foot retail complex featuring 100 designer outlet stores and a 120,000-square-foot hotel on the site to the south of the ballpark. Together the projects will generate a $480 million private investment, and create over 1,200 construction jobs and 1,100 permanent jobs. Mayor Bloomberg made the announcement on the Staten Island waterfront and was joined by New York City Economic Development Corporation President Seth W. Pinsky, President & CEO of the New York Wheel, LLC Richard A. Marin, BFC Partners Donald Capoccia, Joseph Ferrara and Brandon Baron, Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro, City Council Member Debi Rose and CEO of NYC & Company George Fertitta.
“Our Administration has made major investments all along the North Shore of Staten Island, because we know this area is full of potential for economic growth,” said Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. “But this newest plan is the most exciting of all. The New York Wheel will be an attraction unlike any other in New York City – even unlike any other on the planet. It will offer unparalleled and breathtaking views, and is sure to become one of the premier attractions in New York City and the latest exciting addition to our newly revitalized waterfront.”
“The New York Wheel and the retail outlet mall will attract millions of visitors from around the five boroughs and around the world, bringing jobs and private investment to Staten Island,” Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert K. Steel said. “The New York Wheel will be the newest member of New York’s global tourist attractions.”
“Over the last decade, the Bloomberg Administration has been focused on stimulating economic growth across Staten Island, and today’s announcements build upon our steady progress,” said New York City Economic Development Corporation President Seth W. Pinsky. “From the Homeport, Seaview and Charleston, to the St. George Coast Guard Station project, a new small business incubator and a new outlet mall and observation wheel, we are spurring economic development throughout Staten Island that will increase employment and economic activity in the Borough for decades to come.”
“The New York Wheel is destined to become one of the City’s—and the world’s—great landmark attractions,” said Richard A. Marin, President and CEO of the New York Wheel LLC. “There are very few opportunities in life to get involved with a project of this magnitude. We believe that the Wheel will quickly become an iconic fixture and we are proud and excited to bring it to Staten Island, New York City, and the Tri-State area.”
“As the first ever designer outlet complex in New York City, the development of Harbor Commons will provide a once in a lifetime opportunity for specialty retailers to expand their stake in the most vibrant market in the country,” said Donald Capoccia, Managing Principal and Founder of BFC Partners. “We are proud to announcethis exciting project, which will be the go-to location for millions of New Yorkers and tourists each year seeking a breathtaking and free ferry ride to a dynamic waterfront destination with a unique world of value shopping and great dining.”
“For the last two years, I have anxiously been waiting for this day,” said Statem Island Borough President James Molinaro. “This wheel is a game changer for Staten Island and it will permanently change the face of St. George in a positive way. There has never been a proposed project that has been as much accepted by the general population as this one. Going forward, Staten Island will be known as the Borough with the largest wheel in the world.”
“The New York Wheel will undoubtedly become a new landmark in New York City, attracting visitors from all over, providing economic growth and a new visibility for Staten Island, said Senator Charles E. Schumer. “It’s sure to be a source of enjoyment for those who visit and I want to thank Mayor Bloomberg and the NYC Economic Development Corporation for creating this opportunity for the city.”
“Building the world’s largest observation wheel along with a new retail complex will transform Staten Island’s waterfront,” said Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand. “This new iconic site in St. George will have a lasting impact on the Borough’s economic growth and job creation.”
“A Ferris wheel on Staten Island’s North Shore will give New Yorkers and tourists alike the opportunity to share the spectacular view of Manhattan’s skyline that Staten Islanders have enjoyed for decades,” said Rep. Michael Grimm. “I welcome this announcement that will bring thousands of well-paying construction and permanent jobs, business investment, and tourism to the under-developed St. George waterfront. This is the exact kind of private investment we need to spark our local economy, create jobs, and make Staten Island a destination site for all to enjoy this new iconic structure as well as the many other cultural experiences our borough has to offer.”
“As a partner in the redevelopment of Coney Island, I’ve seen first-hand what can be achieved when the government and the private sector work together,” said State Senator Diane Savino. “I want to thank the Mayor for helping to usher in this project that will produce much needed jobs, as well as the potential for a real, long lasting economic boost for the North Shore.”
“For decades now people have talked about the potential of the Staten Island waterfront,” said State Assemblyman Matthew Titone. “At last, at long last, it looks like that potential will be fulfilled, and it will be fulfilled in a spectacular way. I hope to be on the inaugural ride of the New York Wheel.”
“Community Board 1 wants to thank Mayor Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor Steel, EDC President Seth Pinsky, BFC Partners Founder Donald Capoccia and Richard A. Marin, President and CEO of the New York Wheel LLC for heeding our call for common sense development along the north shore waterfront,” said Joseph Carroll, District Manager of Community Board 1 in Staten Island. “It has long been Community Board 1’s position that the St. George Ferry Terminal was more than a commuter hub, it is a world-renowned tourist destination similar to Grand Central Station. These projects will not only capture the dollars from the nearly 2 million tourists who ride the ferry each year, but they will also provide much needed retail services to the surrounding the community which is projected to grow to nearly 30,000 people when all our new development is completed. We would also like to thank Borough President Molinaro and Councilmember Debi Rose for their continued support of the north shore waterfront and its community.”
“Over the last few years NYC & Company has worked hard to promote Staten Island’s hotels and tourist attractions, including Snug Harbor Cultural Center, Historic Richmond Town, Alice Austin House, the Staten Island Zoo and more,” said George Fertitta, CEO of NYC & Company. “Working closely with our members and partners we have successfully attracted more visitors to the island than ever before. We expect the New York Wheel, retail outlet and new hotel to give visitors even more reasons to enjoy the diverse culture offerings, recreational opportunities and excellent dining options in Staten Island.”
The two development sites are located steps from the Staten Island Ferry in St. George, and are currently used as parking for the Richmond County Bank Ballpark and the St. George Ferry Terminal. The New York Wheel is expected be open 7 days a week, 365 days per year (except on severe weather days and required maintenance days) from roughly 10 AM to 10 PM in the fall, winter and spring. Rides will last roughly 38 minutes. In the summer, and on special occasions, the Wheel will stay open for longer hours. Construction is expected to begin in early 2014, with the goal of hosting a grand opening by the end of 2015. The Wheel’s designer and manufacturer will be Starneth, comprised of members of the team that built the London Eye.
At the base of the Wheel will sit a 100,000-square-foot terminal building, which will include various commercial uses, such as retail, restaurant, and theater space, as well as exhibitions about New York City history, alternative energy and environmental sustainability. Construction plans for the Wheel and terminal building will strive for Platinum LEED certification, the highest rating of sustainable building. It expects to be powered predominantly by clean energy. A 950-space structured parking garage will also be built on the site, featuring a green roof with open space, solar panels and planted gardens. New York Wheel LLC will invest approximately $250 million to complete the project, which will create an anticipated 419 construction jobs and 426 permanent jobs.
At the southern site, BFC Partners’ Harbor Commons will be an up-to 350,000 square foot retail complex, comprised of approximately 100 designer outlet retailers, along with a gourmet dining destination with a variety of restaurants and cafes. . Plans also include a 200-room, 120,000-square-foot hotel, with a 15,000-square-foot banquet facility that will provide extraordinary views of the Manhattan skyline. BFC Partners will also build a 1,250-space structured parking garage below the retail and hotel components to accommodate commuters and tourists alike. Construction is expected to begin in the winter of 2014 and be completed in 2016. Designed by SHoP Architects, Harbor Commons will feature expansive open corridors to the water, contemporary materials reflective of the industrial waterfront, and a sweeping sustainable green roof visible from the Harbor. Celebratory vertical circulation elements such as grand staircases, glass elevators, and streamlined escalators will guide shoppers as they move from the waterfront up to Richmond Terrace, creating a dynamic and easily navigated pedestrian experience.
Both New York Wheel and BFC Partners will enter into 99-year leases. Combined the two parties will pay $2.5 million per year in rent to the City, with additional participation rents once certain ridership and gross revenue milestones are reached. The developers will also contribute $300,000 per year in contributions to area-wide maintenance, such as upkeep to the waterfront esplanade. The selection of the developers emerged from a competitive process that began with NYCEDC’s issuance of an RFEI for both sites in 2011 seeking proposals that would meet the goals of bolstering economic growth in Staten Island and enhancing the waterfront.
NYCEDC also announced a number of additional initiatives as part of its comprehensive strategy to further promote economic growth, boost tourism, and create jobs on Staten Island:
- In the coming weeks NYCEDC will issue an RFP seeking the development of the first City-sponsored business incubator on Staten Island..
- In September, 2012, NYCEDC and Triangle Equities signed a predevelopment agreement that will pave the way for the transformation of an underutilized waterfront parcel on the south side of the St. George Ferry Terminal formerly occupied by the United States Coast Guard. The mixed-use development will include retail, housing and hotel and that will provide a critical link between the St. George Ferry Terminal and Stapleton Waterfront.
In 2011, New York City attracted a record 50.5 million visitors, who generated more than $48 billion in economic impact. The tourism sector also supports 320,000 jobs. At the beginning of 2012, Mayor Bloomberg set a new goal to welcome 55 million annual visitors by 2015. In addition, New York City has continued to maintain its position as the most popular U.S. city destination for international visitors, the nation’s number one port of entry and the number one city destination for tourism spending. The City also maintains the highest share of overseas travel to the United States, at approximately 33 percent.
The development of the two sites will greatly contribute to the economic growth of St. George and Staten Island, as outlined in comprehensive planning efforts such as Vision 2020: New York City Comprehensive Waterfront Plan and the North Shore 2030 report. Launched in May 2011, WAVES 2020 is a sustainable blueprint for New York City’s waterfront and waterways. To reconnect New Yorkers and visitors to the water and reclaim New York City’s standing as a premier waterfront city, the plan will transform the City’s waterfront with new parks, new industrial activities and new housing, and it will capitalize on the City’s waterways to promote water-borne transportation, recreation, maritime activity and natural habitats. The plan has two components: a three-year action agenda comprised of 130 funded projects, including the development of more than 50 acres of new waterfront parks, creation of 14 new waterfront esplanades and introduction of new commuter ferry service; and the Vision 2020: New York City Comprehensive Waterfront Plan, a framework for the City’s 520 miles of shoreline for the next decade and beyond. The 130 action agenda projects are expected to create 13,000 construction jobs and at least 3,400 permanent maritime and industrial jobs. It is the first citywide plan for the waterfront in nearly two decades and the first ever comprehensive plan for the waterways themselves.
The North Shore 2030 report identifies strategies that build upon the North Shore’s unique assets to help create jobs, increase waterfront access, improve mobility and strengthen neighborhoods. It was the result of a two-year effort involving City and State agencies, elected officials, local stakeholders and over two hundred residents and business owners to craft a twenty year vision for a diverse, thriving and connected waterfront community.