Las Vegas Sun

September 19, 2017

Currently: 88° — Complete forecast

Wheel to rival Las Vegas High Roller faces construction stop

Image

The High Roller.

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — While the NY Wheel's indefinite delay may have only a minimal impact on Staten Island home sales, interest in commercial development has recently decreased, real estate professionals say.

And it's unclear if Staten Island's recent soaring real estate values will come to an abrupt halt.

"This [the NY Wheel delay] certainly chilled the North Shore [real estate] market somewhat, and I am not sure that finding the new contractor has changed that too much, since there is no completion date estimated yet," said Andrew D. Klapper, a real estate attorney and partner in the West Brighton firm of Klapper & Klapper.

"I think that once there is 'hammer to nail' on the project again, the excitement will be back and the chill lifted, but how far we are from that day is nothing I can predict," he added.

The developer of the NY Wheel fired its designer and builder, Mammoet-Starneth LLC, and drained $400 million of its $580 million funding pot -- leaving the timeline for the project's completion in disarray. It was supposed to be complete in April 2018.

There was an ounce of hope when the NY Wheel announced last month that it's planning to hire the builder of the Las Vegas High Roller and the new Tappan Zee Bridge to finish constructing the 630-foot-high tourist attraction on the St. George waterfront. The High Roller is 550 feet tall — the tallest such wheel in the world.

However, since that announcement, there has been no reported movement on getting the new contractor on board.

IMPACT ON COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE

"I believe that the project's delay will impact commercial real estate values in the area," said Joan Camerlengo broker/owner of Joan Camerlengo Realty in New Dorp.

"Without an influx of tourist trade into the area, some of the ancillary commercial projects may be put on hold," she added.

INVESTORS HOLDING BACK

Real estate professionals said the large influx of investors seeking to cash in on the North Shore development boom have paused in their haste to buy up any properties for sale in the areas immediately surrounding the NY Wheel project.

"Since the Wheel was the most visible and publicized part of the redevelopment, I think most people considered it the 'draw' to bring the world to Staten Island," said Klapper.

"I think there was a wave of serious concern among the investors -- especially the smaller ones with only one or two properties -- that these investments may not eventually pay off," he added.

STILL HIGH DEMAND FOR HOMES

But real estate professionals don't see a major impact on the demand for North Shore residential real estate, especially since a large majority of homebuyers seeking to move to Staten Island are coming from other boroughs.

"Residentially, I think the impact will be minimal. The outlets, stadium, Lighthouse Point, Minthorne Street will all be in place. We will still have the parking garage," said Jon Salmon, broker/owner of Salmon Real Estate in Castleton Corners.

"...I am confident, in the end, we will have 'The Wheel.'... The market in this area is still sizzling hot. I don't see the Wheel affecting this. Any negative effects will be the result of forces beyond St. George, such as the regional, national or world economy," he added.

'FAILURE NOT AN OPTION'

Realtors say that the Wheel, which has been the centerpiece and focal point of large-scale waterfront development, must be built.

"Millions of dollars have already been invested in the project and there are a number of other North Shore projects that depend upon its completion," said Camerlengo.

"The point of this project was to create a destination for tourists, giving them a reason to disembark from the Staten Island Ferry in St. George. The North Shore's economic infrastructure and revitalization depends upon this project. Failure is not an option," she added.