New York Wheel developers abandon plans for Staten Island attraction
A giant observation wheel planned for Staten Island will no longer get a chance to spin, since its developers pulled the project after failing to garner support from the city.
The New York Wheel team announced "with great disappointment" that the huge structure, which was hoped to be a major tourist draw for the borough, will not be completed.
"The dream of building a world-class attraction in Staten Island will unfortunately not come to fruition," said spokesperson Cristyne Nicholas in a statement.
The news ends ongoing ambiguity surrounding the project, designed by Perkins Eastman and S9 Architecture, for which construction rolled to a halt in July 2017.
Work was suspended indefinitely after a legal battle resulted in the firing of its contractor – a partnership between engineer Mammoet and observation wheel specialist Starneth.
Mammoet-Starneth ceased its involvement in May 2017, blaming the developers for failing to make payments. The New York Wheel team then filed a civil complaint, which was later withdrawn, but the process resulted in legal fees and costs incurred by the delays.
More recently, the two parties were arguing over the ownership of some of the wheel's parts. Last month, a court gave the developers until 7 January 2019 to find a new contractor to complete the project, according to local news source SILive.
However, this week's cancellation announcement did not come as a huge surprise. In September 2018, the project's two lead investors – Lloyd Goldman and Jeffrey Feil – had already told the Wall Street Journal they were ready to abandon the plans if the city was not willing to lend its support.
Both the mayor's office and the New York Economic Development Corporation had expressed that they did not consider it a sound investment.
Proposed to reach 630 feet (192 metres) tall and boast views across New York harbour from Staten Island's north shore, the New York Wheel was already well underway after breaking ground six years ago.
Its concrete foundations were completed in June 2016, and the giant legs were later delivered to the site.
The developers have reportedly spent $450 million on construction to-date, which includes various pieces of completed infrastructure that would have helped facilitate increased visitor numbers to the site.
"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," Nicholas said.
Although the New York Wheel's fate is seemingly sealed, several other tourist attractions in the city are moving towards completion.
Thomas Heatherwick's sculptural staircase structure The Vessel at the vast Hudson Yards development is set to open in 2019, while the British designer's beleaguered Pier 55 park has also resumed construction on the Chelsea riverside.