New York City — The New York City Council has approved plans for the $260 million Empire Outlets and the 630-foot New York Wheel, which will be the world's largest ferris wheel and the only one of its kind in New York City. The city council's vote marks the final step in the public approval process for the two projects.
"Together, the New York Wheel and Empire Outlets are a transformative project for Staten Island, generating hundreds of millions of dollars of private investment and thousands of jobs while creating a new iconic attraction for New Yorkers and visitors alike," says Robert Steel, New York City deputy mayor for economic development.
The Empire Outlets project, which BFC Partners is building adjacent to the St. George Ferry Terminal, will transform a municipal parking lot into a 1 million-square-foot mixed-use destination. The development, designed by SHoP Architects, will include 340,000 square feet of prime retail space with up to 125 designer outlet retailers; a 200-room hotel; and a 40,000-square-foot food and beverage deck that will provide views of the Manhattan skyline. In addition, BFC Partners will also build a 1,250-space structured parking garage below the retail and hotel components to accommodate commuters and tourists.
The New York Wheel will offer New Yorkers and visitors views of the Lower and Midtown Manhattan skylines, the Statue of Liberty, the Verrazano Bridge and all of New York Harbor during the ride's 38-minute revolution. Featuring 36 capsules, each carrying up to 40 passengers, the completed attraction will rival the London Eye, the Eiffel Tower and the Sydney Harbor Opera House as an iconic world attraction.
"Today's final approval marks a major milestone for Staten Island and New York City," says Rich Marin, CEO of New York Wheel LLC. "We're confident that the New York Wheel will take its place alongside other Big Apple landmark attractions such as the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building."
EWB Development is handling leasing responsibilities for the Empire Outlets. The New York Wheel is scheduled to begin construction in 2014 with a grand opening scheduled for 2016. Construction for the Empire Outlets is expected to begin in the winter of 2014 and be completed in 2016.
— John Nelson