Watch CBS News

174-Foot-Tall Ferris Wheel Could Highlight New Riverfront Development Project

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- A Ferris wheel at the edge of the Ohio River is part of a development plan before the Urban Redevelopment Authority on Thursday.

The project would change the landscape of what some think is an underutilized riverfront.

The URA is expected to give preliminary approval to a redevelopment project that would breathe life into a part of Pittsburgh torn apart by urban renewal decades ago.

The project is called the Esplanade, a vision of Lucas Piatt, the CEO at Millcraft Investments.

The area was once called Chateau, a neighborhood along the Ohio River that the construction of an elevated Ohio River Boulevard separated from the Manchester community.

"How do we knit the Ohio riverfront back into the Manchester neighborhood and make sure that the neighborhood is not walled off from the riverfront?" asked Greg Flisram, executive director of the URA.

That's the overall goal of Flisram and URA, which has been asked to sell six of the 15 acres Millcraft needs to develop a mixed-use site for housing, retail, entertainment, and boating, anchored by a 174-foot-tall Ferris wheel.

"George Ferris lived in the Northside, right adjacent neighborhood to this project," Piatt told KDKA-TV on Wednesday. "We want to use the wheel as an opportunity to create a destination, to pay homage to his innovation, and tell the story of Pittsburgh."

Besides the Ferris wheel, the plan is to construct a 300-unit apartment building with affordable housing, a hotel, condos, plenty of retail stores, a parking garage, and a public marina at the edge of the Ohio River.

A key feature is an outdoor/indoor pavilion with the largest rooftop swimming pool in the city. In essence, Piatt wants to create a new neighborhood along the river that is linked to the old neighborhood of Manchester.

"We really, really feel that our rivers are a place for everybody," he said. "That's why ... nearly 50 percent of the space is outdoor space. Learning a little bit from the pandemic about ventilation, fresh air, recreation, and health and wellness, we really want to implement that into the project."

URA's Flisram said this is the future.

"Derelict riverfronts are being reclaimed and being used for all manner of things like housing, job development, and residential," he said. "It's pretty cool."

Piatt said the development will take some time. Between government approvals, infrastructure development, and construction, don't expect an open esplanade and Ferris wheel until 2025.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.