Colony, KanAm clinch Ferris wheel deal

The private equity firms behind what is touted as one of the world’s largest entertainment complexes have announced the development will open on Nov 20 – an attraction they hope will be as iconic as the UK’s London Eye and Seattle’s Space Needle.

A private equity-backed theme park in New Jersey, which will be home to what is being described as the largest Ferris wheel in the US, is set to open on November 20 – more than one year behind schedule.

The development of the $2 billion Meadowlands Xanadu shopping and entertainment complex in northern New Jersey will feature a 287-foot tall Pepsi-branded wheel called Pepsi Globe.

Dr Michael Birnbaum, managing director of the German open-ended fund KanAm, revealed the date to German newspaper Die Welt, saying the company had invested around $450 million (€306 millions) into the project, an estimated 41 percent of the costs.

The scheme was first announced by KanAm and developer Mills Corporation in 1997 with plans to open the development in 2007. In 2006, Los Angeles-based private equity firm Colony Capital took over Mills’ stake after the company revealed major accounting errors. Colony stated at the time the firm would invest $500 million in the entertainment complex.

Meadowlands’ developers are hoping the Pepsi-sponsored Ferris wheel will be as iconic a feature as the London Eye and Seattle’s Space Needle after entering into a 10-year marketing agreement with the soft drinks company. The deal is believed to be worth $100 million, according to press reports.

The wheel – which will feature the soft drink’s familiar red, white and blue colors – will have 26 glass-enclosed pods and take 25-minutes to complete one revolution.

Meadowmands officials told PERE the development must still gain approval for the wheel’s Pepsi logo (pictured) from the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which leases land to Meadowlands.

Once completed, Meadowlands will be the third largest retail and entertainment complexes in the world – and the largest in the US – providing 4.8 million square feet of leisure, office, retail and hotel space.