The New York City Council approved plans yesterday for the 630-foot New York Wheel and Empire Outlets mall after an undisclosed agreement hashed out by the developer of the mall and the Building and Construction Trades Council earlier this week. Read More
on the waterfront
While most development plans are forced to go around and around and around, re-tooling and tweaking until they’ve been beaten into some ULURP-ified shape that everyone can live with, it’s been one easy ride for the New York Wheel. Apparently everyone (well, not everyone—Marty Markowitz hates the idea of anything outshining the Wonder Wheel), loves the idea of an enormous Ferris wheel in the forgotten borough.
The City Planning Commission approved the New York Wheel in all its 625-foot-high glory today, also giving its nod to the SHoP-designed Empire Outlets, the retail component of the project being development by BFC Partners that will anchor the gargantuan carnival ride with more than 350,000 square feet of retail space and a 200-room hotel adjacent to the St. George ferry terminal.
While the Bloomberg administration has largely come in for praise for its Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts, questions remain over whether City Hall made things worse by encouraging waterfront development. The Independent Budget Office certainly believes so in a critical analysis it has issued looking at the seemingly hypocritical policy initiatives Mayor Bloomberg had championed.
On the one hand, the city had taken pains to reduce its carbon footprint as it acknowledges the dangers posed by rising sea levels and superstorms. At the same time, the administration continues to encourage new residential and commercial projects in the very areas it is wringing its hands over.
Rich Marin is big. For more than three decades, he dominated Wall Street, creating some of the industry’s most exotic investments, making billions for his clients, and millions for himself. One of his minions blew a hole in the side of Bankers Trust, a firm Mr. Marin helped transform into a derivatives powerhouse, and still he held on for the ride, becoming the youngest managing director ever at the bank. It all came crashing down five years ago, when the hedge funds he oversaw at Bear Stearns imploded. The rest of the world followed within the year. But there was Mr. Marin, standing amid the wreckage, helping rescue an overzealous Israeli diamond magnate who had plowed $3 billion into prime U.S. real estate just as the frothing market froze over. He rescued the firm, only to be unceremoniously fired two years to the day after he joined.
Now Rich Marin wants to build the world’s largest ferris wheel—in Staten Island, naturally—and the mayor just gave him his blessing.
Did we mention he is big? At the announcement of the project last Thursday, Mr. Marin absolutely dwarfed Mayor Bloomberg and Senator Chuck Schumer, along with the other dignitaries gathered at the ferry terminal. But despite his imposing size—he stands 6-foot-5 and is built like an offensive lineman—Mr. Marin is probably one of the gentlest people on the Street. Were he a real bear, rather than having worked for one, Mr. Marin would be not a grizzly but a teddy. This may help explain his turbulent career.
Finally, a reason for tourists to get off the Staten Island Ferry after taking their free site-seeing cruise. Today, Mayor Michael Bloomberg will travel to St. George to finalized plans to construct the world’s largest ferris wheel at the northern tip of Richmond County. The oversized amusement is part of a larger hotel and retail complex to be developed by BFC Partners, a local real estate concern.
Mayor Bloomberg touted the new ferris wheel as yet another investment by his administration in the North Shore of Staten Island.