City of Miami will consider plan for giant Ferris wheel
By Brian Bandell – Senior Reporter, South Florida Business Journal
Oct 26, 2019
A Ferris wheel could become a fixture of the downtown Miami skyline under a proposal before city officials.
On July 31, the Planning, Zoning and Appeals Board will consider an application by Sky Views of America to build a 179-foot-tall Ferris wheel on the east side of Bayside Marketplace, just outside the Hard Rock Café. The city owns the land, which is part of Bayfront Park, and has leased it to Brookfield Properties as part of the shopping complex. Brookfield has signed a deal with the Scottsdale, Arizona-based Ferris wheel developer, which is owned by Guy West Leavitt and Charlene Kay Leavitt.
The developer is seeking a waiver to allow an amusement ride in Bayfront Park and for additional height, up to 180 feet.
The Skywheel Miami would not be the tallest Ferris wheel in Florida. That distinction belongs to the 400-foot wheel at Icon Park in Orlando.
Plans for Skywheel Miami call for 42 fully-enclosed climate-controlled gondolas with seating for eight passengers each. It would carry 336 passengers in total for rides of 12 to 15 minutes. There would also be a 200-square-foot ticket and snack kiosk and an 80-foot souvenir photo kiosk.
The application said the project would create 70 jobs. It would normally operate from 10 a.m. to midnight, but that might extend to 1 a.m. during special events like New Years Eve.
Miami attorney David Sacks, who represents Sky Views of America in the application, couldn’t be reached for comment. The developer is also working with Zyscovich Architects and Kimley-Horn and Associates.
“Skywheel brings to the city of Miami an iconic and first-class amenity to Bayside and the city and is compatible with the surrounding area,” the developer stated in the application. “Skyweel is the type of use anticipated to serve visitors of Bayside and due to the project’s passive nature in a public park is less invasive in comparison with other uses permissible at Bayside.”
The application also said the Ferris wheel would increase business at local retailers and restaurants.
The city previously approved a 1,000-foot-tall observation and entertainment tower called SkyRise Miami at Bayside Marketplace. While the developer, Miami-based Jeff Berkowitz, formalized the lease with Brookfield, and named a general contractor, construction on SkyRise has yet to start. It would be just north of the Skywheel.