The fate of Staten Island's New York Wheel—once scheduled to rise this year as the world's tallest Ferris wheel—is now in jeopardy, after an ongoing legal battle ended this week with the developer firing the project's design-build team.
According to court documents filed on Wednesday and obtained by the Staten Island Advance, the developer behind the 630-feet-high, $590 million observation hub/wheel has accused design-build team Mammoet-Starneth LLC of failing "to meet multiple design and construction deadlines." Those delays have cost the developer of NY Wheel $16 million in damages and an additional $20 million in lost profits, the civil complaint alleges.
The project is now "indefinitely delayed," according to the the Advance.
"Due to the inability of Mammoet-Starneth LLC ('Mammoet'), the design-build team for the Wheel, to meet multiple design and construction deadlines, the developer has come to the conclusion that the best path forward for this project is to seek other means to take on the remaining aspects of that 'turnkey' arrangement," Cristyne Nicholas, NY Wheel spokeswoman, said in a statement.
The gigantic wheel was initially approved by the City Council in 2013 and slated to open in 2016. But since construction began two years ago, the project has been plagued by legal and construction disputes, including a lawsuit from the original developer claiming that he was pushed out because he is Hasidic.
Most recently, Mammoet threatened to leave the project after alleging that NY Wheel was withholding $20 million in delay payments, DNAinfo reports. NY Wheel initially sued to keep the developer on, before terminating the agreement this week. NY Wheel will pay Mammoet $7.2 million as part of the termination agreement.
— New York Wheel (@TheNewYorkWheel) June 13, 2016
Last year, the project's developer told Gothamist that at least $250 million had been invested into the wheel already, and noted that, "we're either delusional or something if we don't think it's real at this point." A significant amount of construction work has been completed since then, including the installation of the wheel's concrete foundation and four, 90-ton pedestals holding the legs in place.
Last month, the Post reported on complaints filed by city inspectors alleging that the wheel was built on "defective" pads, and that its 500-ton legs were held up by "bad welds." The filings also made note of the project's vast cost overruns, and "extortionate" billing.
The mega-project was expected to be the lynch pin in efforts to attract developers to Staten Island's North Shore. Here's what the view from the top would look like, if it ever does get finished: