Sky Wheel Coming to Downtown St Louis


Belgin bank backing proposed Ferris wheel on Laclede's Landing

Article by Tim Bryant
St Louis Post-Dispatch

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Wheel of fortune


Deep within the ancient mists of time — i.e., the Carter administration — it was proposed that the Mississippi River at St. Louis be spanned with a cable car system. The thought was that tourists would love to see the river from 300 feet.

There was no money for this plan, of course, and, as it turned out, very little enthusiasm. We hadn't thought of it in three decades until we read Matthew Hathaway's story in the Sunday Post-Dispatch about Mark and John Rodgers' plans to build a 175-foot tall Ferris wheel on Laclede's Landing.

As connoisseurs of far-fetched riverfront development schemes — cable cars, floating islands, Disney-St. Louis, the Battleship Missouri, etc., — we applaud the Rodgers frères for their pluck. When the economy went south and their proposed $25 million Port St. Louis condo development on the Landing went kaput, the brothers bounced back with the Ferris wheel concept.

Now, some will argue that to erect a Ferris wheel — actually, an "observation" wheel or "sky" wheel, featuring 42 climate-controlled gondolas with video screens — just north of Capt. James B. Eads landmark bridge and not far from Eero Saarinen's Gateway Arch might be . . . well . . . a little tacky.

To which others might reply, "Have you seen the London Eye?" That's a 443-foot tall Ferris wheel across the River Thames from Westminster that has become the most popular tourist attraction in England.

Who needs St. Paul's Cathedral or Buckingham Palace when you've got a 443-foot Ferris wheel? In fact, all around the world, cities are building giant Ferris wheels. Soon, no city's skyline will be complete without a Ferris wheel. St. Louis must close the Ferris wheel gap!

Besides, Laclede's Landing could use the business. And former Sen. Jack Danforth, R-Mo., has been pointing out that tourism at the Arch is down, too.

Naturally, the Rodgers brothers are seeking a city subsidy for their wheel of fortune in the form of tax increment financing. This means the mayor, the Board of Estimate and the aldermen will all get in on the act. If the brothers think a Ferris wheel goes 'round and 'round, wait'll they see City Hall.

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article by Matthew Hathaway dated Oct 12, 2008

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Twin developers want Laclede's Landing to give wheel a spin

By Deb Peterson

HIGH ROLLER: Twin brothers Mark and John Rodgers — real estate developers who put together the Shaw Park Villas project on Brighton Way in Clayton, among other things — are pursuing a proposal to place a 175-foot tall "luxury" observation wheel on Laclede's Landing. The wheel would be similar to ones operating in Niagara Falls, N.Y., Santa Monica, Calif., and Brisbane, Australia. Plans include fully enclosed air-conditioned and heated gondolas with video screens and room for six people. At the base of the wheel, Mark Rodgers said Thursday, the brothers are planning a place for parties and corporate events. They are seeking a TIF and have support from the city — "Barb Geisman (St. Louis' deputy mayor for development) has us on the fast track," Rodgers noted. He said there was some discussion at a recent meeting with city officials over how the wheel would be taxed. The wheel would be located on property already owned by the Rodgers brothers on Laclede's Landing just north of the Martin Luther King Bridge.

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