It’s no secret that Navy Pier is going to replace its current Ferris wheel with a bigger, better, more modern wheel. Nevertheless, it’s kind of strange to see it come across your desk in black and white:
EXISTING OPEN AIR ASSEMBLY: REPLACEMENT OF EXISTING FERRIS WHEEL, INSTALLATION OF NEW STRUCTURAL SUPPORT SYSTEM FOR FERRIS WHEEL, INSTALLATION OF NEW USER LOADING DECK, INSTALLATION OF NEW CANOPY, AND INSTALLATION OF ASSOCIATED LANDSCAPING AT PIER PARK. **Certified Plan Corrections Project – Conditional Permit: Subject to field inspections **
That’s the official blessing from the city handed down this past Thursday. There is no estimate of the cost of the project from Navy Pier or the city. Navy Pier will only say it’s part of a larger $640 million Elevate Chicago plan to draw 50 million tourists to the city by 2020. Fortunately, the permit spells out exactly how much they think the Ferris wheel will cost: $15 million.
The current, 149-foot-tall Ferris wheel has been turning on Navy Pier since 1995. The new wheel, measuring 196 feet, will be able to carry an additional 180 people per trip because instead of tiny open-air teacups, it will be equipped with modern, climate-controlled capsules. That means it will be able to operate at capacity year-round, bringing in even more revenue.
The current world’s tallest Ferris wheel is the High Roller in Las Vegas. At 550 feet, it’s almost four times bigger than the one currently spinning on the edge of Streeterville. It will soon be eclipsed by Ferris wheels in Dubai and possibly New York.