artist rendering of the New York Wheel, the world's tallest Ferris wheel, coming to Staten Island. via NYCMayorsOffice
artist rendering of the New York Wheel, the world’s tallest Ferris wheel, coming to Staten Island. via NYCMayorsOffice

Did you know that Staten Island was the fastest growing borough in New York City from 1990-2010? Learning this fun data, we thought it was time to recap the city’s vision to transform the waterfront of this oft-forgotten borough into a world-class destination. The St. George Waterfront Restoration Program, announced by Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2012, calls for a new retail complex of 350,000 square-feet and the world’s tallest Ferris wheel, which will measure 625 feet tall and draw an expected 4.5 million visitors every year, according to the Economic Development Corporation’s press release.

The “New York Wheel” will have thirty-six capsules that hold 40 riders at a time, for a total of 1,440 people per ride. The rest of the waterfront project will give way to Empire Outlets, a retail complex that will house 100 designer outlet stores—creating 1,200 construction jobs and an additional 1,100 permanent jobs, as well as a 120,000 square-foot hotel, as they fill in the surrounding areas of the current Richmond County Bank Ballpark. This initiative in the St. George neighborhood will generate $480 million in private investment, all just steps from the Staten Island Ferry. Construction of this development project is slated to begin early next year, with a goal of opening in 2016.

Site plan for Empire Outlets and the New York Wheel. via NYCEDC

The St. George Waterfront restoration project is only one of many projects to enrich Staten Island. In June 2010, Mayor Bloomberg broke ground at Ocean Breeze Park where a 2,500-seat field house is to be built, lending way to a $72.7 million track and field center right on the island, designed by Sage and Coombe Architects. The Ocean Breeze track center could be the premier state-of-the-art track and field facility on the East Coast” says Staten Island Track Running and Community President Vincent Gattullo, an advocate for a track at this location since 1996.

In addition, the Stapleton Waterfront’s former Navy Homeport is also looking at its own renovation, as ground broke this summer for a $150 million retail and residential project. This LEED-certified initiative will bring 5,000 luxury rental apartments to the 35-acre area, as well as 25,000 square-feet of retail space. There will also be a waterfront esplanade complete with public walks, lawns, and a boat launch.

artist rendering of the new Stapleton Waterfront Esplanade. via NYCEDC
artist rendering of the new Stapleton Waterfront Esplanade. via NYCEDC

New York City Economic Development Corporation President Seth W. Pinsky is hopeful for the future of Staten Island: “From the Homeport, Seaview and Charleston, to the St. George Coast Guard Station project, a new small business incubator and a new outlet mall and observation wheel, we are spurring economic development throughout Staten Island that will increase employment and economic activity in the Borough for decades to come.”