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Could New Developments Mean Renaissance For Staten Island?

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Staten Island is sometimes called the forgotten borough, and is the only borough without a subway that connects to the rest of the system.

And many people who live on Staten Island say there just is not much to do. But that seems to be changing.

CBS2's Jessica Moore went out to find if there is any truth to the idea that Staten Island is the new Brooklyn.

From the women of "Sex and the City" begrudgingly making the 5.2-mile trek across New York Harbor to "Working Girl" Melanie Griffith contemplating life's problems on the ferry home from Manhattan, Staten Island has long endured an inconsistent distinction.

"I used to call it 'stranded Island,' because once you're here, you're stranded," said Jake Conetta of the Upper East Side. "There's no place to go."

"Oh it is happy. I mean, the mall is bumping," said Kera Stachell of West Brighton, Staten Island.

"There's nothing on this island; there's nothing to do," said Michael Trey of New Springville, Staten Island.

But now, several new projects promise to reinvent Staten Island's reputation as the forgotten borough. Conetta is on a construction crew for a 350,000 square-foot shopping complex going up near the ferry terminal.

"It's not just stores, but they also have it made out of all glass so you have like a view of the water; a view of Manhattan," Conetta said. "There's going to be a garden in the middle."

The $590 million New York Wheel, also going up near the Staten Island Ferry, is expected to draw throngs of visitors to the island that was once known by its infamous smell.

"It was known for the smell, and that's gone away. It's been almost 20 years now that the Fresh Kills Dump has been closed, and I'm sure people notice that going down the highway," said Joe Clark.

The onetime site of the infamous landfill is now part of the 2,200-acre Fresh Kills Park, currently under construction.

The park is expected to be fully complete in 2036.

Just a few miles down the road, a production company named Broadway Stages is under contract to purchase the old Arthur Kills prison and turn it into a multimillion-dollar film and TV studio.

"It's an untapped natural resource for the TV and film industry in terms of having the prison," said Warren Cohn of Broadway Stages. "They're going to leave it as is."

Show scouts were seen navigating the prison boiler room looking for places to create TV magic.

"The possibilities are kind of endless; there's a lot of rooms. You can have a jail cell. We're turning one room into a cafe. We're turning another room into a concert," said Nicole Montagnino of Local 52 Props, "You know, there's so much space in there that you can really turn it into whatever you need it to be.

Community leaders hope New Yorkers will be impressed by the new and improved Staten Island. And if you're not happy with the changes, keep in mind that only people who live on Staten Island are allowed to complain about it.

Construction of the Ferris wheel is expected to resume this spring, with a projected opening date of 2018.

If you are thinking about moving to Staten Island, move fast. Real estate prices near the new construction are quickly going up.


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