Completion Date of Staten Island’s Giant Wheel Still Up in the Air


When former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg first announced plans for the wheel in 2013, it was scheduled to be completed by late 2015. The contract between the developers and the original builders, a group known as Mammoet-Starneth, stated a completion date of May of this year.

The wheel, known in the tourism industry as an observation wheel, would dwarf all others, including the London Eye, and would hold as many as 1,440 passengers at a time. A taller wheel is under construction in Dubai and that project has moved along more swiftly.

New York City tourism officials had been telling travel promoters around the world that the wheel was on course to open by late 2018 or early 2019. But completion of the wheel may be father out.

Cristyne Nicholas, a spokeswoman for New York Wheel, said in a statement that the developers expected to announce a new completion date soon. Ms. Nicholas said that the developers were in “advanced negotiations with American Bridge Company” to take over and complete the wheel. She said that the transition would involve removing cranes from the site and replacing them with other equipment.

Photo

A lawyer for the wheel’s developers said they would try to complete the work as quickly as possible.

Credit
Michelle V. Agins/The New York Times

So far, only the foundation of the wheel and a terminal building have been installed on the waterfront site, which sits west of the Staten Island Ferry terminal, the future home of an outlet shopping mall and the stadium where a New York Yankees farm team plays.

The massive legs that would brace the wheel have been sitting in a warehouse on the Brooklyn waterfront for months, awaiting inspection. Eventually, they would be carried by a barge to Staten Island and secured to the foundation. The wheel would then be assembled piece by piece, starting with the arcs of its rim and then to the attachment of the large pods that customers would ride in.

Fred Dixon, the chief executive of the city’s tourism promotion agency, NYC & Company, mentioned the wheel during a presentation Monday about the “new New York” in São Paulo, Brazil. He said he had heard about the switch of construction teams on the project but would continue promoting the wheel as a future attraction until he had reason to doubt that it would be completed.

“We haven’t changed our tack at all,” Mr. Dixon said. “We’re fully expecting it to open.”

But he added that he considered the wheel less critical than the outlet mall in bringing more tourists to Staten Island. “As long as the outlets open next year,” that effort should pay off, Mr. Dixon said. “That’s the thing that the international market is most interested in because shopping is the No. 1 activity of visitors to New York City.”

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