Staten Island waterfront redevelopment hits a wall

Yankees dropping its affiliation with the borough latest in a string of problems

Richmond County Bank Ballpark (Photo via Google Maps)
Richmond County Bank Ballpark (Photo via Google Maps)

Over the past decade, politicians and investors had big hopes of turning Staten Island’s waterfront into a major tourist destination.

There were plans to bring the world’s largest Ferris Wheel and an outlet mall to the borough’s North Shore, where the Richmond County Ballpark — home to the Staten Island Yankees, the minor league affiliate for the Bronx Bombers — was already located.

But now, those plans seem to be hitting a wall.

Last month, the New York Yankees dropped their affiliation with the Single-A Staten Island Yankees, which has been struggling to bring in fans, according to the Wall Street Journal. And last week, the Connecticut-based investment group that owns the now-defunct Staten Island team filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit against the New York Yankees and Major League Baseball in New York State Supreme Court.

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The ballpark was a key initiative to help uplift the north shore, along with the now-defunct New York Wheel and Empire Outlets, a $350 million shopping center.

The New York Wheel, which was supposed to be completed in 2016, was best by cost overruns and delays, and ultimately fell apart in 2018 after Mayor Bill de Blasio turned down a $380 million bond that would have helped with construction. There are currently talks to bring a smaller wheel to the borough, closer in size to the London Eye.

Empire Outlets, the $350 million outlet mall, opened in May 2019 but is currently only at 58 percent capacity. Its operator claims that it is struggling to attract tenants and shoppers due to the coronavirus pandemic.

[WSJ] — Keith Larsen