Va. Beach Planning Commission says ‘no’ to SkyWheel

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The Virginia Beach Planning Commission voted 7-2 against a proposal to build a Ferris wheel at the Oceanfront.

Koch Development envisioned an “observation” wheel at 1701 Atlantic Avenue that would stand 190 feet with climate controlled seats and incredible views. But the renderings raised concerns from the owners of the Dolphin Inn, the hotel next to the proposed location. The owners’ biggest concern is privacy.

“They know they have guests who would not appreciate having this at a distance that is less than from where I’m standing to the back door of this room,” said Jim Lang, who represented the Dolphin Inn owners at the public hearing.

Photos: Planning Commission discusses SkyWheel

Matthew Stack of Koch Development argued for the SkyWheel project.

“You’re able to see the sliding glass door, but you’re not able to see inside that door,” said Stack. “In fact, if you wanted to see inside the door, the view would be better from the boardwalk.”

The Dolphin Inn owners also had concerns the Skywheel would obstruct views from hotel balconies, and they worried about the impact on entertainment at 17th street park, where the wheel would be built. They said the concerts are a big draw for their guests.

Even the aesthetics troubled the owners, because one of the hotel walls is within 50 feet of the Skywheel. The hotel owners say the lights would shine into rooms.

“If you look up at the wheel, and you’re standing there, it’s going to be bright, look beautiful, it’s an experience,” said Stack. “But if you hold your newspaper or book out and try to read it, it doesn’t shed enough light for you to read your book.”

But in the end, the planning commission voted down the proposal, mostly because of location. As one commissioner put it, the Skywheel “just doesn’t fit.”

“When I look at this thing, I’m thinking it just doesnt fit. It doesn’t fit,” said Philip Russo, Jr., of the planning commission. “It’s too big for this property.”

Stack told he was disappointed by the vote. He felt the net benefit of the project outweighed the concerns raised at the hearing.

And while Koch Development is not closing the book on Virginia Beach, it looks like this chapter is done, for now.

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