Ferris Wheel Proposed for Delmar and Skinker

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A 120-foot diameter Ferris wheel is proposed for the southeast corner of Delmar and Skinker in The Delmar Loop. Tony Sansone, Jr. and his son Michael Sansone of Sangita Capital Partners, and Todd Schneider of Pacific Development LLC kicked off the community engagement effort by presenting the plan to the Delmar Commercial Committee Thursday. They hope to add a family-friendly attraction to the walkable entertainment district.

The wheel includes 20 fully-enclosed climate-controlled gondolas with capacity of six each. One ride would consist of four trips around, and your group wouldn’t be expected to ride with others. The site would include concessions including a beer garden. The operator also operates Skyview Atlanta, a larger (20 story) Ferris wheel in Centennial Park. They would sign a 10-year lease for the property and would not seek tax incentives.

Concerns about parking, distracting drivers, lighting, and height were expressed. The site plan shows 15 on-site parking spaces along the alley, and they are working on the possibility of using the New Cote Brilliant Church parking lot northwest of Skinker and Enright. They reassured the committee that lighting would not be overwhelming. Its height would be between the 8-story Moonrise Hotel and the 14-story Everly apartment building. Dwarfing the church next door is a concern for some congregation members.

{A smaller and much less fancy mobile Ferris wheel was at the site during the Loop Ice Carnival in January.}
The parcel is currently zoned F-Neighborhood Commercial which has a height limit of three stories and 50 feet. The Ferris wheel would require a variance. It is within the Skinker-DeBaliviere-Catlin Tract-Parkview Historic District. The Delmar Link Area Redevelopment Plan ordinance applies as well.

{H3 Studio}
The almost 4-year vacant site (which I call both my muse and my nemesis) is shown in the Skinker DeBaliviere Neighborhood plan as a traditional building replacing the boarded-up 45-year-old fast food building. The last idea we heard about was for a paid parking lot which went no where. Michael Sansone said the owner of the property refuses to sell at a price that makes such a development feasible.

The current condition is a poster-child of a low-productivity auto-oriented land use. It has an assessed value of $296k per acre. Across the street the single-story Pin-Up Bowl is $821k per acre. Snyder said the project cost would be about $4M. If its appraised value equals that the parcel’s productivity would top $3M in assessed value per acre. From a land productivity perspective, provided my assumption of the Assessor’s assessment is correct, it’s a big improvement.

Another consideration is the tension between adding land uses that attract more people to the Loop from outside the immediate area and those that serve residents and workers on Delmar and in adjacent neighborhoods. Or the desire for more family-friendly activities nearby. I’ve wondered what the impact of not having something like the Highlands that’s accessible to young people without a car to give them something to do. Or land uses that enhance walkability to foster car-optional living versus those that attract more cars. For example Skinker DeBaliviere lacks senior-compatible housing. This site could have a building with an elevator and would be within walking distance to necessities and transit to other parts of the city (like medical services in the CWE). Accommodating less parking would make the rents more affordable.

How many big Ferris wheels can St. Louis support? Do we wait for something better for an unknown amount of time? They are certainly other perspectives to consider. What’s yours? Let’s discuss.

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  • It is great news for people in Delmar and Skinker!
    I like it and I think it will be one of the most welcomed entertainment there!

  • opendorz

    I like the idea of a landmark attraction with some height for this location, but Ferris Wheels are a dimes dozen now. How about something unique like a slim tower of multicolored geometric glass panels, illuminated at night topped by a panoramic glowing globe housing an observation deck and restaurant? Does anyone else think this (or some other imaginative concept) be better than a carnival ride?

  • STL Forever

    The Delmar Loop is becoming a shadow of its former self with the unnecessary trolley and now this out-of-place Ferris wheel. I’m fine with the Ferris wheel project proposed for Union Station downtown, but it seems odd here. I agree that the empty Church’s Chicken building is an eyesore, but a Ferris wheel, really? How about a really amazing destination restaurant with adjacent street-level retail and condos or apartments above it? The Loop needs a must-go destination, not a Ferris wheel. Or perhaps a police substation, seriously.

    • rgbose

      There’s going to be a police substation for the Metrolink detail next to the Delmar station.

    • Thomas A Green

      I agree with STL Forever perhaps a Bubba Gumps. It will be the first for the state!

  • Dahmen Piotraschke

    The trolley is a very shady and a certain costly intrusive construction. No locals are gonna ride it. Also, the ferris wheel planned for Union Station is a great idea for the new full reconstruction and the new top aquarium in the US in size. The Loop is a ding just anything..and the locals are the Loops top visitors. Let Union Station flourish..u got the trolley that has caused extreme havoc already.

  • Justaguest

    I feel like I am seeing these things poping up more and more across the country (as proposals) I think it’s the simple economics that appeal to investors. A made up example: If you can average say 75 people a day for $10 a ride you have ~275k in annual operating income. Less say 75K for staff and admin you have in the ballpark of 200k in NOI. No idea what these things cost but if you can find a bank to offer some debt and leverage your investment you could be talking 10-20% returns (assuming they are only a couple million to buy the land and build) Certainly high risk though.

  • Samuel

    lame. No thank you.

    Whats the interest in Ferris Wheels? Its not 1910.

  • Thomas

    Oh brother! You already have a ferris wheel proposed for union station and you are going to saturate the market by making another proposal for one in a different area of the city. Bring diversity not more of the same.

  • Colocon

    “Concerns about parking, distracting drivers, lighting, and height were expressed.” Which buildings can be torn down to provide additional parking in the area?

  • Don

    In terms of other locations for a ferris wheel, remember that private enterprise building on city park ground is nearly impossible.

  • Don

    This seems like a silly vanity project. Of course anything is an improvement over what is currently on the site, but I’m not sure that’s really the only measure by which to judge this project. A lack of subsidy request while good is also not a very good measure.
    I don’t think this Ferris Wheel is the highest and best use of this very valuable corner. I do think the city should condemn the building and order it cleared. I’d prefer a surface lot to a multi million dollar ferris wheel that if built, will likely remain at this corner — for good or for bad — a very long time.
    Given he development of the Loop the last several years, I think something much better will be coming along in a reasonable amount of time.

    • Jakeb

      Why doesn’t the city condemn the old churches and force the owner to clear the lot?

      This is an extremely valuable piece of real estate with zero possibility the owner would walk away, and even if that happened, I’m fine with the city owning a parcel they can make some money selling.

      And no ferris wheel please.

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  • Tysalpha

    With the developers not seeking any incentives/subsidies, I say go for it. Worst that can happen? They fail, and we’re back to an unused lot–with no taxpayer $$ lost in the meantime.

  • Chris

    Stupidest location one could think of for this sort of thing in the entire metro.

  • JB

    Is this the same developer who proposed a ferris wheel at the Mike Shannon’s spot downtown?

  • Lynn

    How about the city give them the 3-story height limit–and then see if they still want to build their ferris wheel. They should partner with the City Museum and build it down there.

  • Tim E

    My two cents, no just no as Phillip stated for the reason that Benjamin and Rg expressed..
    ..
    To me the Union Station/LHM proposal at least puts a ferris wheel adds to the aquarium in an area that has regional draw whether it be Sporting events, Arch Grounds to City Museum, Convention Center with the hotels rooms to support it.

  • Jonathan Shank

    I can’t believe I am saying this, but I don’t hate the idea. Are there other things I would rather see there? Yes. But if they are putting up all their own money for a lot that has been an eyesore for years, then I wouldn’t stand in the way. Not many developers are footing the whole bill for things here these days, so I’ll give it a chance.

  • Benjamin West

    While this definitely earns kudos for novel use of that old Church’s lot, it’s a vanity project, and it would only be usable for approx 1/2 of the year. Not to mention plenty of better venues for a Ferris wheel (Arch grounds, zoo, Forest Park). Plus, they’d have to cage the gondolas, due to nitwits wanting to throw stuff at cars below, lessening the appeal. A business/retail development on that lot would at least bring in more sales/earnings tax revenue.

    • rgbose

      As I mentioned the gondolas would be fully enclosed and climate-controlled.

      Other locations I thought of were the History Museum lot on Delmar or the entrance to Ruth Porter Park at DeBaliviere, but those are far away from the foot traffic they’re banking on.

      • Benjamin West

        Thank you for the clarification. My sentiment about the siting remains. The location and size of that lot makes it ideal for an anchor tenant, perhaps ground-level retail and housing above, something that would increase density. A Ferris wheel at that location looks like folly.

        • rgbose
          • No more schlocky faux-historic replicas, please.

          • STL Forever

            I’d be fine with a modern building with clean lines, as long as it adds value and vibrancy to the area. I will add that faux historic doesn’t have to be schlocky if it is done right and blends well with adjacent architecture. What no one wants is another eyesore, regardless of style.

          • Jakeb

            EXACTLY. Very well said.

            I’m not a fan of faux-historic replicas, but it can be done well and even mix a modern look with historic materials, etc. We’ve seen here some renderings of good examples of this, but it seems far too often those don’t get built.

  • HolyFrijoles11

    …May fools?

    • MRNHS

      That’s honestly what I thought too when I read the headline.

  • Presbyterian

    Oh, I don’t know… I think this might make a sort of sense. The Loop is an entertainment district, and this adds another attraction to the Loop trolley, which itself is more tourist attraction than mode of public transit. Now they just need an old-school video game arcade. Think Six Flags over Delmar.

    If they seek no tax subsidies — meaning that the financial risk is the developer’s — then this seems an improvement over a vacant Church’s Chicken. Meanwhile, the proposed pharmacy and offices across Delmar will help make the neighborhood more livable and walkable for residents. The Loop is more than an entertainment district. It plays many roles.

    But I still thought this was an April Fool’s piece.

  • T-Leb

    Make St. Louis = Branson, MO

    • SnakePlissken

      Where the women are like ferris wheels – fully enclosed and climate controlled(?)

      • T-Leb

        BOOMHAUER: Hey, man, I’ll go get my dang ol’ banjo, man… maybe get an accordion, man, what do you think?… No, better stick with the banjo, man.

        EARL: You ever think about taking her to Branson?
        HANK: You think she’s Branson good?

        DALE: We could be your backup band. “The Dale Gribble Bluegrass Experience.”
        HANK: Hm. I like it.

        KAHN: That inbred music is designed so only people with six fingers can play it! Your path is Van Cliburn to Carnegie Hall to New York Philharmonic, not hay wagon to Hee Haw!

  • Johnny Utah

    Aren’t they going to put a ferris wheel at Union Station too?

    This is another example of a worthless, pointless development going in that is going to have zero impact on the surrounding community.

    Whoever’s idea this was should not be in charge to make such decisions.

  • Philip Gavitt

    No. Just no.

  • David

    Seems like more and more developers are pushing St. Louis as an entertainment destination and see a market here for it, but there are no good ideas. They combined all the weak ideas in Union Station. None of that is visit here instead of Nashville level, it is drive in from the suburbs for a day on a weekend at best.

    In any case, St. Louis needs to accept that revenue growth is going to come from increasing tourism/entertainment dollars and residential. Failure to accept the importance of entertainment to our tax base is part of the problem with how the city approached MLS. Still, there have to be better entertainment ideas without duplicating the weak ones at the new Union Station. More entertainment options on Delmar is a good idea. Another ferris wheel though, not so much.

  • Mike P

    Gimmick. How long before they tear it down again?