The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority board has unanimously approved a 220 ft observation wheel to be built next to the Steel Pier in Atlantic City. The wheel will be the largest in the United States until a larger one is built in Las Vegas next year.
Officials say after Tuesday's board meeting, the wheels are in motion on the project, and construction on the observation wheel could begin within a few months.
Arthur Ponzio, a planner and engineer on the project, told NBC40, "This area of the boardwalk, I think, is going to be spectacular."
The wheel will feature 40, climate-controlled gondolas that can hold 6 to 10 people inside for lunch, drinks, or even business meetings - all while taking in views of the incredible coastline of Atlantic City.
President of the Steel Pier, Anthony Catanoso, said, "It will be a 30,000 square foot addition to the Steel Pier - a 100 by 315 ft deck, just alongside the pier, that will have the observation wheel and some other attractions on there. So it will have beach access, boardwalk access, open to the public, so it really will be a nice, flowing addition to the pier."
Steve Hankin, the attorney for the project, said the wheel will make Atlantic City even more desirable for tourists by saying, "This is the kind of ride that is very family-friendly. You can eat on here, you can drink on here, you can be cool, you can be warm - it depends on what time of the year, but it's a very safe, well-rounded ride." Catanoso added, "We're totally pumped up about this, this is really an exciting project for Atlantic City and I think it's one of the most exciting projects in the last couple of years. I mean, coming on the heels of Margaritaville, which is really great for the Uptown District, this is really that much better."
CRDA representatives say they plan to contribute close to 10 million dollars towards the project. Paul Weiss, Chief Legal Officer for the CRDA, told NBC40, "The Steel Pier is an iconic and historic landmark in the city and the expansion of that landmark is integral to the mission of the Tourism District's master plan."
Officials with the Steel Pier say they hope to have the massive wheel opened by the first quarter of 2014.
Engineers with the project say they will still need state approval, but that within the next 3 to 4 months the project should be cleared and construction can begin.