Company proposes giant Ferris wheel in Va. Beach

Rendering of a conceptual plan for a SkyWheel at 17th Street Park at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront. (Koch Development)

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP/WAVY) — A St. Louis-based company told 10 On Your Side Tuesday that it is seeking approval to erect a giant Ferris wheel at Virginia Beach’s Oceanfront.

The proposed SkyWheel Virginia Beach would be nearly 200-feet-tall and about 180 feet in diameter. It would have 42 glass-enclosed gondolas and an LED light show on its wheels and spokes. The price would be $8 for kids and $14 for adults for a ten to twelve minute ride, according to developers.

Koch Development said it plans to invest about $12 million in the project. Virginia Beach City Councilman John Uhrin said the project could bring in nearly half a million dollars a year for the city.

“What we would do is take a piece of property which is currently not taxable that would go on the tax rolls, as well as we would be receiving all of the admissions tax and the sales tax that would be associated with operation of the Ferris wheel,” Uhrin said.

“I think it’s a wonderful idea,” said local resident Glenn Parrish. “Entertainment probably draws more kids and adults alike.”

10 On Your Side viewer Megan Waters objected to the idea on WAVY’s Facebook page: “What happens when the hurricanes and nor’easters come?”

Developer Matthew Stack said the wheel is built to withstand winds of more than 130 miles per hour.

“The glass-enclosed gondolas can be removed in a matter of about three or four hours,” Stack added.

10 On Your Side asked a Navy spokeswoman if the project would interfere with the Navy’s flight path. She said the project did not appear to be a problem, but that the FAA will need to conduct an obstruction evaluation. Stack said the wheel would be in compliance because it is a little less than 200 feet tall.

If City Council approves the project, the Ferris wheel would open by the summer of 2015. A public hearing on the project is scheduled for April.

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