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City still has no plans for the languishing New York Wheel site

Mayor Bill de Blasio and a rendering of the New York Wheel (Credit: Wikipedia)

Mayor Bill de Blasio and a rendering of the New York Wheel (Credit: Wikipedia)

Six months after the New York Wheel was nixed, the city still has no plan for the vacant site.

The NY Wheel has still not terminated its lease agreement with the city, the Staten Island Advance reported. It has accrued financial fees, including $2.3 million in deferred rent payments plus interest.

During an unrelated press conference this week, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the New York Economic Development Corp. is leading planning efforts for the site — but didn’t voice any preference for what he thinks should be planned there.

“It’s a site we can do a lot with for the good of Staten Island and there’s some real interesting ideas whether it should be focused on economic development, job creation, whether it should be public space, or some combination, but the process has really only begun,” de Blasio said.

NYCEDC said it hasn’t put out any request for proposals, the report said.

“I don’t have a personal view,” the mayor said. “Look, I would only say, I want to hear from Staten Island leaders and residents. I think the economy on Staten Island has been growing in some important ways, and it might be an opportunity to foster that growth, for example more tech is a good example, but we really have to hear from the community and the local leaders.”

Before the project was declared dead, the NY Wheel sought financial help from the city and asked the de Blasio administration for non-taxable bonds. The mayor declined, saying the project wasn’t economically viable. It also become one of the biggest EB-5 failures to date.

According to the lease agreement, the rent is $1 million annually, plus interest, and it’s deferred until Nov. 21, 2021. Since the lease is still active, the NY Wheel is still accountable for the deferred rent, the report said. NYCEDC couldn’t give a dollar amount of the penalties already incurred by the NY Wheel.

If and when the lease agreement is terminated, the NY Wheel would still have to pay the city to restore the site to its condition or pay for the completion of the project, according to the report. [SI Advance] — Meenal Vamburkar

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