Rendering of New York Wheel on Staten Island. Renderings by S9 Architecture/Perkins Eastman.
There’s one word that describes the development projects underway on the St. George Waterfront in Staten Island: ambitious. Last week, we took a tour of the construction site for the New York Wheel and Empire Outlets with the architects and developers in charge of the project. The two projects alone constitute $1.2 billion in investment, and are joined by additional projects underway at Lighthouse Point, Flagship Brewery, Snug Harbor Cultural Center, and other institutional organizations along Staten Island’s north shore.
Construction of Empire Outlets and hotel
Superlatives have come to define the projects at St. George. The New York Wheel will be the tallest ferris wheel in the world at 630 feet. It will be 89 feet taller than the Singapore Flyer, the current record holder. Empire Outlets will be the first outlet mall in New York City and the developers project that it will be in the top three most trafficked retail centers in the world. There will be 350,000 square feet of retail with 100 different retail shops and a 190 room hotel The team behind the Gansevoort Market is building the food offering in Empire Outlets and at this point in time, 62% of the space at Empire Outlets has already been leased.
Rendering of Empire Outlets by ShoP Architects
Model of Empire Outlets
Over 22 million people take the Staten Island Ferry every year, but a much smaller percentage of the tourists actually get off the ferry and step onto Staten Island itself. One goal for the project is also to increase the number of passengers yearly on the ferry to 32 million.
Construction site for the New York Wheel
Both the New York Wheel and Empire Outlets are being built in the former site of a parking lot that served the Richmond County Ballpark, where the Staten Island Yankees play. The streetscape and waterfront is pretty raw here, and you can easily see why the St. George Waterfront has become a prime target for redevelopment, with its proximity to the ferry port. A parking structure will be incorporated underground, with a capacity of 1,250 vehicles. It’s also a waterfront that has historically been disconnected, due to the long years of industrial uses and other factors.
Model of the hotel on the right, atop the green roofs of Empire Outlets
The New York Wheel will be a feat of engineering on many fronts, not just because of its height. Because of the nature of the land along the waterfront, the Wheel will be built using what Navid Maqami of S9 Architecture, the design lead for the New York Wheel, describes as “stilettos heels” that go deep down into the bedrock. The cost of the foundation for the wheel is projected at double the cost of the 950-space garage that will be at site of the wheel.
Rendering of the terminal building and support structure for the New York Wheel. Renderings by S9 Architecture/Perkins Eastman.
The garage will include a six acre green roof, outfitted with a green lawn supported by 2 to 4 feet of soil, 260 trees, a playground, restaurant, and concert venue. Also at the base of the wheel will be a 100,000 square foot Terminal Building. The developers project that 30,000 riders will take the wheel per day, which would be about 4.5 million riders per year.
Views of Manhattan from the site
The architecture firms involved also give a clue to the importance of the site. S9 Architecture, the firm behind Empire Stores in Dumbo, Dock 72 at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, redevelopments at Industry City, and more, is behind the New York Wheel, which will be manufactured by the firm Starneth, with team members who were behind the London Eye. Empire Outlets is being designed by SHoP Architects, the firm behind the Barclays Center, the super skinny skyscarper at 111 West 57th Street, the tallest skyscraper planned for Brooklyn, and the city’s first wood high-rise building. Both S9 Architecture, its partner Perkins Eastman, and SHoP are New York City based, melding local resources with global ambition.
Empire Outlets is expected to open in November 2017 and the New York Wheel has an anticipated opening date of April 2018. You can learn about the latest developments by visiting the New York Wheel and Empire Outlets Marketing Center located inside the St. George Ferry Terminal, across from the River Dock Cafe.