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New York Wheel-Staten Island-St. George Waterfront-S9 Architecture-Perkins Eastman-NYC-5Rendering 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.

07-Staten-Island-North-Shore-St Georges-Untapped-Cities_6Construction 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.

Empire Outlets-Rendering-ShoP Architects-NYCRendering of Empire Outlets by ShoP Architects

01-Staten-Island-North-Shore-St Georges-Untapped-CitiesModel 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.

1-Staten-Island-North-Shore-St Georges-Untapped-CitiesConstruction site for the New York Wheel

10-Staten-Island-North-Shore-St Georges-Untapped-Cities_9Current waterfront

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.

05-Staten-Island-North-Shore-St Georges-Untapped-Cities_4

06-Staten-Island-North-Shore-St Georges-Untapped-Cities_5Model 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.

New York Wheel-Staten Island-St. George Waterfront-S9 Architecture-Perkins Eastman-NYC-2Rendering 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. 

11-Staten-Island-North-Shore-St Georges-Untapped-Cities_10Views 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.

Next, check out the development site at the abandoned Staten Island Farm Colony and what else to check out on Staten Island’s North Shore.

2 Comments

  1. KM says:

    The commute through ferry terminal with its frigid winter and roasting summer waits for buses and the need to run like a sprinter to catch a bus (if even one IS there to meet the boat) is impossible for many older folks, disabled persons and innocent travelers who do not know that buses DO NOT WAIT to meet the ferry, and others. Considering that ferries are sometimes a little late, they frequently do not connect with the bus system (which only locals — including working folks and some tourists who wish to see Staten Islands cultural treasures — might care about). There is often no catching a bus and aneed to wait on the platform in all kinds of inclement weather. (If one tries to wait indoors, there is not enough warning of bus arrival and nor time to get down the platform to board before those “time sensitive
    drivers depart. There is no dispatcher in view of the situations serving the need to provide information that enables drivers and passengers to enjoy GOOD SERVICE. This is one of the worst public transportation layouts in U.S. and among the rapidly developing major “third world” cities.

    Question: Might the ladies room at the ferry terminal get a good high speed hand dryer and more than just the one hand dryer now provided when the Wheel opens?

  2. Edward says:

    I really hope the city increases ferry service if they want another 10 million riders per year. I lived in St. George for 4 years, and while I liked the neighborhood, the commute became increasingly difficult with so many tourists clogging the gangways and taking up every available inch of the boats. Each run would leave 5-10 mins late, which is OK if you’re on vacation from Ohio, but not so much if you’re trying to get to Midtown to go to work. Finally had to say goodbye to my home borough. Will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

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