Plans to build the world's largest observation wheel and the city's first outlet mall on Staten Island are one step closer to reality as developers took their projects Wednesday to the city Planning Commission. NY1's Amanda Farinacci filed the following report.
More green space, more public parking and more amenities for the St. George community are all part of updated plans unveiled by the developers hoping to build two separate projects to change Staten Island's north shore waterfront: the world's largest Ferris wheel and the city's first outlet mall.
"We've listened carefully to what the community and the various civic leaders have wanted, and we've taken it from a $250 million project to a $320 million project," said Richard Marin of New York Wheel. "Most of that is all of the additional benefits that we're putting into the project for the community.
That's why developers of the New York Wheel and the Empire Outlet Mall, two separate projects going through the approval process simultaneously, say they're optimistic about winning over the city Planning Commission.
Both developers took questions from the commission Wednesday before it makes a final decision.
Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro said that both developers have done a good job responding to concerns about the project.
"People that are investing a half a billion dollars, they're not going to jeopardize half a billion dollars," Molinaro said.
So more parking was added, as were plans for the streets around the project to be privately maintained.
St. George residents have publicly worried about the impact of the projected 30,000 daily tourists, but none of them showed up for the public hearing.
Commissioner Fred Cerullo, himself a Staten Island resident, said that offering zip cars or rental cars as a means to encourage tourists to travel to other island cultural destinations should become part of the plan.
"We're talking now with our transportation consultants to see if there's a possible way to include this," said Donald Capoccia of BFC Partners. "It was a great idea. I don't know how my team missed this."
The commission will vote on the outlet mall and wheel on September 11. Then, the plans go before the City Council, with developers optimistic that the projects will have all the approvals they need before the year's end.