While we applaud any effort to swap one of downtown's myriad parking lots with something more interesting and vibrant, our inner-curmudgeon gets the best of us when it comes to the permanent "SkyView" Ferris wheel proposed for downtown. Has the bar been lowered too much when it comes to Atlanta's giant looping tourist elevators? Two years ago, Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus was taking meetings with powerful developers in hopes of building an exact replica of the London Eye near Centennial Olympic Park. At 450 feet — a tad shorter than the Viewpoint condo tower in Midtown — that wheel would have altered the skyline, ostensibly becoming a true (albeit carbon-copied) Atlanta landmark. This new wheel is being pitched at far less than half that height — roughly 180 feet. That's a couple of stories taller than the Ferris wheel at Chicago's Navy Pier, which offers breathtaking views but in and of itself is forgettable.
The Atlanta Business Chronicle reports a St. Louis-based company wants to test-run their "SkyView" wheel from May 1 through July 31, in a parking lot next door to The Tabernacle. (From that angle, will Midtown and Buckhead be visible? Doubtful.) Should all go well, Pacific Development — which operates similar wheels in Florida and Myrtle Beach — would seek approval "for an extended duration of operations," according to the newspaper. The amusement, it must be said, is no state-fair attraction: It would feature 42 enclosed, climate-controlled gondolas that fit six people each, with rides expected to last up to 15 minutes. Riders would be able to hop on seven days a week — until midnight. Plans are pending approval.
As for Marcus' grand ambitions, we haven't read much on that front since the idea was first floated. Perhaps the estimated $200 million price tag for The Eye II was prohibitive?
· 'SkyView' Ferris wheel proposed for downtown [Atlanta Business Chronicle]
· An 18-story Ferris wheel might be headed for downtown [CL]