City looking to build world's biggest Ferris wheel in Staten Island
New York's next big tourist attraction may be in the unlikeliest of places: Staten Island.
The city is reportedly in talks to build the world's largest Ferris wheel -- at a towering 600 feet tall -- just outside the terminal in the St. George section of Staten Island, a move that could capitalize on the 2 million tourists who ride the ferry every year.
The talks, first reported by the Staten Island Advance, stem from a city request for bids last summer for a few areas near the terminal, and Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro said the plan could be a big boost to the borough.
"I support this 110% for what it would do for the economy of New York City and what it would do for Staten Island," Molinaro told amNewYork.
Last year there were 50 million visitors ... I want some of that money spent on Staten Island," he said.
Molinaro added that the "collateral effect" would bring restaurants, hotels and other tourism attractions.
The giant wheel, which would be about 200 feet taller than the famous London Eye, would likely open in 2015, Molinaro said, and be around 300 feet from the terminal entrance.
The city's Economic Development Corporation declined to comment on the wheel, but said it is "in active negotiations with multiple respondents."
Jonathan Bowles, director of the Center for an Urban Future, said the Ferris wheel could finally tap into a huge amount of unexplored tourism money that has gone untouched for too long.
"If even a fraction of the tourists who take the ferry end up staying there and spending a little money, it would have a huge benefit on the borough," Bowles said. It's unclear how much the Ferris would cost, and if the city would contribute.
Still, some New Yorkers said the gargantuan project wouldn't have any chance at flourishing in the city.
"No shot," said James Brown, 25, who lives in Bay Ridge. "There's only one Ferris wheel in [the city] and that's going to be the way it is," refering to Denos Wonder Wheel in Coney Island.
But others said it could be just what Staten Island needs to raise its profile.
"It would give Manhattan a rest," said Michelle Bethune, 23, of Jamaica. "It would give people a reason to branch out to other borough. "There's more to New York than just Manhattan."