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Developers Of SI Ferris Wheel, Outlet Mall Work To Dissuade Community Concerns

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TWC News: Developers Of SI Ferris Wheel, Outlet Mall Work To Dissuade Community Concerns
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For developers of the world's tallest Ferris wheel and the city's first outlet mall, two large-scale project scheduled to change the landscape of Staten Island's north shore waterfront in 2016, the clock is ticking to win over community support, especially as the city is set to vote on their plans next month. NY1's Amanda Farinacci filed the following report.

The New York Wheel, the world's tallest Ferris wheel, and Empire Outlets, the city's first outlet mall, are both scheduled to open for business in 2016.

When they do, the developers of both projects say they'll aim for more than just commercial success.

"Each project will be committing $50,000 dollars a year, for a total of $100,000 a year, to non-profit organizations working on the north shore," said Don Capoccia from BFC Partners.

Their foundation doesn't have a name yet, and they didn't say which organizations will benefit, but community activists and church groups, who joined the developers Tuesday, have plenty of ideas for how it should work.

"Unemployment among late teens, early twenties is so high. I mean, those are the people who have to be targeted," said James Samuels from Brighton Heights Reformed Church.

The announcement comes as the city's review process nears an end, with continuing concerns from some nearby residents worried about parking and traffic, along with opposition from union members about the outlet developer's decision to use mainly non-union labor to build it.

Capoccia says 20 percent of the construction jobs will go to Staten Islanders.

"So, if it's 1,200 jobs, it'll be 240 employees from this community, 50 percent of which we've also committed to enroll into the building skills New York program, which is a CUNY construction trades program," Capoccia said.

The full City Council is expected to vote on both the wheel and the outlet mall on October 30, giving community groups just over a month to make sure their concerns about the projects are heard.

"A project this big is gonna generate a lot of taxes, money for the city. But will that be re-directed back to Staten Island and the business folks? What kind of incentives will this bring about?" said Bobby Digi from the North Shore Business Association.

City Councilwoman Debi Rose, who represents the north shore, says she's working on these issues.

Rose says the creation of a foundation is a step in the right direction, and it's one of many partnerships she says she expects the developers to forge with the community as the project moves ahead.

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