World’s Tallest Wheel Wins NYC Approval

The world’s tallest observation wheel, set for a site on New York’s Staten Island, took one step closer to reality last week.

New York’s City Planning Commission (CPC) announced its support for the New York Wheel and BFC Partners’ Empire Outlets, completing another important milestone in the approval process to revitalize the New York Harbor with one of the world’s largest observation wheels and a new retail outlet complex.

The CPC’s decision marks the final stage of the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, which will end with a City Council vote scheduled for October 30, 2013.

NY WheelSince their initial announcement nearly one year ago, the New York Wheel and Empire Outlets have gone through numerous and rigorous rounds of approvals, receiving support from city agencies, Staten Island’s Community Board #1 and the Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro. Both projects are on the north shore of St. George on Staten Island, with the New York Wheel standing 625 feet high and Empire Outlets, a project of BFC Partners, being built adjacent to the St. George Ferry Terminal with over 350,000 square feet of retail space and a 200-room hotel.

Together the projects will create more than 1,150 construction jobs and 1,700 permanent jobs. The projects will play a significant role in economic expansion and job generation and in doing so will offer small business opportunities to those living and working in St. George, the North Shore and the rest of Staten Island.

The CPC’s decision keeps both projects on track to begin construction in 2014, with a grand opening scheduled for 2016.

“We’re pleased with the Commission’s decision and are confident that the Wheel will keep turning through the approval process,” said Rich Marin, CEO of New York Wheel LLC. “It has been gratifying to see the support of EDC, City Planning, the Design Commission, the Borough President and the community as they all come together to add this iconic landmark to the Gateway to America on New York Harbor. ”

“Empire Outlets and the New York Wheel will reinforce New York Harbor as a local and international attraction of significance,” said Donald Capoccia, Principal of BFC Partners. “With access to 8.3 million residents and 52 million tourists annually with $36.9 billion a year in direct visitor spending, these projects will transform the North Shore of Staten Island into a thriving economic engine, echoing its impact throughout the borough and the City.”

“Empire Outlets has received an incredible amount of interest from retailers around the world,” added Joseph Ferrara, Principal of BFC Partners. “We are confident that the final mix of tenancy achieved at Empire will address the needs of the local shopper and the visiting tourist.”

“Mayor Bloomberg is committed to revitalizing the City’s 520 miles of waterfront and bringing jobs and private investment to all five boroughs, and with the City Planning Commission’s approval of the New York Wheel and Empire Outlets projects we are one step closer to bringing these projects to life in St. George,” Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert K. Steel said.

About the New York Wheel

The New York Wheel, located on the North Shore of Staten Island, will be the tallest observation wheel in the world and the only attraction of its kind in New York City. The 625-foot (roughly 60-story) Wheel will feature 36 capsules, each carrying up to 40 passengers, that will offer incomparable views of Lower and Midtown Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty, New York Harbor, and beyond both the Verrazano and the George Washington Bridges, for the duration of each 38-minute revolution. The attraction will accommodate as many as 1,440 people per trip, and will welcome as many as 30,000 visitors each day and an anticipated 4 million visitors per year.

It is expected to begin construction in 2014 with a grand opening scheduled for 2016.

About Empire Outlets

BFC Partners’ Empire Outlets will be an approximately 340,000-square-foot retail complex, comprised of up to 125 designer outlet retailers and a variety of restaurants and cafes. Plans also include a 200-room, 130,000-square-foot hotel, and a 20,000-square-foot banquet facility that will provide extraordinary views of the Manhattan skyline. BFC Partners will also build a 1,250-space structured parking garage below the retail and hotel components to accommodate commuters and tourists alike. Construction is expected to begin in the winter of 2014 and be completed in 2016. For more information about Empire Outlets, please visit: and