NEW YORK — Super-sized sodas may not be welcome in New York City, but if Mayor Michael Bloomberg has his way, America’s biggest city may someday have the world’s biggest Ferris wheel — a 625-foot-tall behemoth capable of carrying 1,440 people per ride.
Bloomberg announced plans for the giant ride, envisioned for the borough of Staten Island, on Thursday, further cementing his reputation as a mayor for whom size does matter. Earlier this month, he ushered through the nation’s first law cracking down on sales of giant sugary sodas. Beginning in March, restaurants, delis and food concession stands won’t be able to sell sugary drinks in cups larger than 16 ounces, part of Bloomberg’s effort to combat obesity.
Bloomberg says the Ferris wheel will be part of a 350,000-square-foot complex featuring outlet stores and other draws, but the real lure would be the spinning wheel. If built as envisioned, the Ferris wheel would dwarf the London Eye, which is 443 feet high. It would be 84 feet higher than the Singapore Flyer, currently the world’s biggest Ferris wheel.
Bloomberg also has proposed new zoning rules that would permit construction of so-called micro-studios, or apartments of about 275 square feet, to meet the needs of the growing number of New Yorkers living alone. Based on descriptions of the proposed Ferris wheel, it might be more comfortable living in one of its 36 pods rather than one of the new micro-studios. Each pod will be able to carry about 40 people.
The New York Wheel, as it’s being called, will be part of a shopping mall and hotel complex developed by BFC Partners of New York and planned for Staten Island, one of the city’s five boroughs. The Staten Island Ferry is a huge tourist draw, but the borough - the only one not served by the city’s subways - has long sought ways of keeping more visitors on Staten Island once they exit the ferry. As it is, many simply turn around and head straight back to Manhattan.
“This wheel is a game changer for Staten Island,” the borough president, James Molinaro, said, adding that he had “anxiously been waiting for this day.”
“The New York Wheel will be an attraction unlike any other in New York City - even unlike any other on the planet,” said Bloomberg.
There’s no telling when the wheel might take its first spin - the announcement did not include a proposed start date for the project, assuming the plans don’t bump up against major opposition.
And there’s no promising that, when the wheel is finished, it still will be the world’s tallest. That’s an honor that has changed rapidly over the years, with the Singapore Flyer grabbing the title in 2008, just two years after the Star of Nanching in China claimed it with a 525-foot Ferris wheel. The London Eye laid claim to the title from 1999 until 2006.