Businessmen want to move giant Ferris wheel to Atlanta

The 20-story Ferris wheel that used to be in Paris is coming to Atlanta — via Pensacola.

The massive structure, which will be erected in the heart of downtown’s growing tourist circle and in the middle of the upcoming streetcar route, will give sky-high views of Atlanta and, according to early numbers, will be one of downtown’s cheapest attractions.

“It will be a unique, affordable experience,” said Atlanta City Councilman Kwanza Hall, who represents the district where the Ferris wheel will operate. “And while Ferris wheels have been around for years, it is still a very innovative idea.”

The 200-foot ride will last about 15 minutes — four rotations of the wheel — and is expected to cost between $12 and $13 to ride, said Jason Evans, a spokesman for Skyview Atlanta, which is what the wheel will be called.

The idea of bringing the Ferris wheel to downtown was the brainchild of two St. Louis businessmen, who plan to set up the ride next to The Tabernacle. Evans said the partners, Todd Schneider and Al Mers, have set up similar attractions before, notably in Myrtle Beach, and were responsible for moving the Paris wheel, a temporary structure, to Pensacola.

“I didn’t get a chance to ride the Ferris wheel myself. However, it was very much part of the décor and appreciated by many locals and tourists alike,” said Denis Barbet, Consul General of France in Atlanta, about the attraction when it was located at the Place de la Concorde near the Louvre. “I’m glad to hear that Atlanta will be getting a Parisian flair and hope it will be as successful as it was in Paris.”

Earlier this week, the Atlanta City Council’s utilities committee approved a request for a temporary encroachment on a right of way for the Ferris wheel. The wheel will extend over 23 feet on both Luckie and Nassau streets.

The full council will vote on it on Monday.

Evans said if the council approves it, the Ferris wheel can be ready for rides as early as June.

Councilman C.T. Martin voted for the attraction, but raised several concerns, particularly over safety.

“I am not knocking it. I just want it to be safe and for all of our bases to be covered,” Martin said, adding that he has no interest in riding it. “But it will be good for conventions and another way for families to come together.”

Susan Roe, president of the Atlanta Downtown Neighborhood Association, said she is hopeful that the wheel would spur tourism along the Luckie Street side of Centennial Olympic Park.

“If someone wants to come in and do it, go for it, free enterprise,” Roe said. “Am I gonna ride it? Probably not. But I will be walking by it every day with my dog.”

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