Ground stability tests are underway for the construction of the so-called New York Wheel, the world's largest Ferris wheel, which will rise near an outlet mall just steps away from the St. George Ferry Terminal on Staten Island. Borough reporter Amanda Farinacci filed the following report.
At the foot of the St. George Ferry Terminal, crews are drilling into the ground in the parking lot near the Richmond County Ballpark. That is where city officials want to build the world's largest Ferris wheel and the Harbor Commons outlet mall.
"They're testing the ground to see if it's going to sustain, if they have to add any land or sand or soil to it," said one onlooker. "But at least they're taking the proper steps."
"I'm still skeptical," said another onlooker. "I mean, I'll believe it when I see it."
The so-called New York Wheel would take riders as high as 60 feet in the sky and the outlet mall would be the city's first.
The New York City Economic Development Corporation says the drilling is part of preliminary work that is necessary to ready the land for construction. This geo-technical testing is meant to determine to how strong the foundations will have to be.
The project still has to undergo a lengthy land use and permitting process and get the approval of the community board before moving ahead.
"It's a planning issue. It's a planning for connectivity, it's a planning for the Richmond Terrace and Bay Street areas. It's how we're going get traffic down, it's how we're going to get tourists up," said Leticia Remauro of Community Board 1.
Drilling began on Monday and work crews said it should take about two weeks to fully test 48 separate spots on the land where the proposed Ferris wheel and outlet mall are to be built.
Residents were excited about the project.
"I'm definitely an enthusiast of amusement parks and I would definitely check it out," a local said.
The developer expects the project to take about a year to go through the public land-use process, and if all goes well, construction will begin in April 2014.