New Attraction Planned for Atlantic City’s Steel Pier
There are a lot of "big wheels" in Atlantic City, just walk into any casino. But the city and the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority are now planning to build the biggest of wheels next to the iconic Steel Pier.
It's a 220-foot-high wheel, and CRDA Executive Director John Palmieri is quick to point out that's it's not a traditional ferris wheel that one would find at a street fair or amusement park.
"We refer to it as an 'observation wheel,' not to be confused with a traditional Ferris wheel," Palmieri said.
The structure will carry heated cabins that can be enjoyed even in the cold weather. The cabins, he said, will provide a spectacular view of Atlantic City. The 40 climate-controlled cars on the wheel will feature padded seats with Wi-Fi access and even music for the wheel's ride, which will be about 15 to 20 minutes. The project still requires approval by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.
In addition, the wheel's location, adjacent to the Steel Pier, is part of a larger plan to make the Pier a year-round attraction. That also means a future expansion of the Steel Pier itself.
Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian also says the observation wheel will be a good investment for his town.
The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority has now authorized a total of $8 million in loans for the wheel project, which carries a total price tag of $14 million. Palmieri says although gambling is still the town's centerpiece, this just adds another non-gaming attraction.
"We're creating a more appealing place for visitation," he said. "Obviously casinos are still a big employer, and they are the base part of the economy, but our focus is on diversity."