Admittedly, Staten Island doesn’t get much attention here on the Urban Edge blog. Don’t misunderstand… we actually think there are a lot of hidden gems on the island (Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden, anyone?). But much of the borough remains pleasantly spread out and suburban, and with so many cultural events, culinary thrills, and mega-developments clamoring for our attention across the NY Harbor in Manhattan and Brooklyn, we honestly don’t get over to the SI that much. Which I’m sure is fine by them.
The point, though, is that three major initiatives over the next few years may change the way the rest of the city—not to mention the tens of millions of tourists staying therein–thinks of Staten Island. Or, at least, the way we think of the immediate vicinity around the ferry terminal, which is the most urban part of the borough, and could be called “Downtown” Staten Island.
The first of these has been in the works for awhile, but is definitely worth re-noting: the $500 million New York Wheel, which, at 625 feet high, would instantly become the world’s tallest ferris wheel. Worth a special trip to ride a beauty like that? Yes, absolutely. The grand plan for the area would also include a high-end hotel complex (120,00 square feet!) and what’s being called the Harbor Commons, which the mayor’s office describes as “a 420,000-square-foot retail complex featuring 50 to 75 designer outlet stores” Right now the New York Wheel is scheduled to start spinning (with Google glass technology, somehow) in 2015.
And there’s a potentially even bigger game-changer in the works for Staten Island as well! Last week the Wall Street Journal reported on the mayor’s ongoing efforts to create a destination “urban center” on the borough’s north shore. This Staten Island Downtown Revitalization Area emanates from the St. George Terminal and includes parts of the neighborhoods of St. George, Stapleton, Tompkinsville and Clifton.
The most intriguing part of the proposal to me: the “incubator” which would give space at a low rent–$100 to $300 a month–to approximately 100 artists, craftspeople, food vendors, and small manufacturers. The north shore has already seen an semi-influx of artists in the past few years; the incubator (and increased tourist and local traffic) would obviously only heighten interest among the creative set.