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New York City officials say they still are confident the wheel will succeed.
"We are pleased to see these positive steps taken with the wheel, and look forward to this transformational project adding to the swell of new jobs and economic growth we're seeing in the area," said Ryan Birchmeier, a spokesman for the city Economic Development Corp.
The New York Wheel was one of several giant ferris wheels planned for sites around the world following the successful opening of the 135-metre London Eye in 2000. New York's wheel was the soon-to-be world's tallest when it was announced in 2012.
Then-mayor Michael Bloomberg promised that it would be "unlike any other on the planet", offering "unparalleled and breathtaking views".
Its projected height has since been surpassed by the 190.5 metre Ain Dubai or Dubai Eye, now under construction in the United Arab Emirates.
Staten Island, the place where the wheel is supposed to be built, is both physically and culturally separated from the rest of the city.
Tourists do visit, most coming from Manhattan by the Staten Island Ferry, which offers a free jaunt across the harbour past the Statue of Liberty. But many tourists go for the breathtaking views of the harbour, turn around and come back without ever leaving the terminal.
Officials had hoped the giant wheel would entice more people to get out and walk around.
Staten Island shop owner Ed Varuolo opened his business, Hypno-Tronic Comics, near the wheel site in 2013, in anticipation of foot traffic.
"We're looking forward to it," Varuolo said, "but it can't happen soon enough."
While several observation wheels inspired by the London Eye have been built in the last decade, including the High Roller and the Singapore Flyer , others including the Beijing Great Wheel , the Great Berlin Wheel and the Kolkata Eye were announced but have been cancelled or postponed due to financial obstacles.
"Ferris wheels, big wheels for the last 15 years ago have become the icon du jour," theme park consultant Dennis Speigel said. "Everybody wants one, and they don't always work."
Speigel sees the New York Wheel's location on Staten Island as a disadvantage.
The centrally located London Eye "is in the location where all the tourists come through," Speigel said. "They're already there. They're not going to get on a boat and go there."