Boston Freedom Wheel, LLC. is proposing a 200 foot “observation wheel” at the end of Long Wharf on the Boston Harbor watersheet. Company officials have held several private meetings with community leaders to explain the plans that would include two, 2-story cafe buildings and outdoor seating for 700 people. Using a platform supported by pilings in the harbor, the complex would cover 34,000 square feet, operating 365 days per year. A liquor license is also being sought to support the facility for functions, such as weddings and catered parties.
The proponents have experience in the business with a similar operation in Montreal, Canada, known as La Grande Roue de Montreal (photo at top). Officials said that similar, luxury, UV-glass gondolas would be used and climate controlled for all-season weather.
Boston Freedom Wheel LLC is determined to locate on the North End waterfront because of the foot traffic that comes with the area’s other attractions, such as the Freedom Trail, New England Aquarium, Faneuil Hall and the North End / Downtown restaurants. When asked about other neighborhoods, such as the Seaport or the Everett casino, management said the North End offers the large number of visitors needed for the venture to be successful. The company would look to partner with local attractions and contribute to climate resiliency efforts at Long Wharf which often floods at high tide.
The ferris wheel sponsors are aware of the decade-long lawsuit at Long Wharf between the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA, now known as the BPDA) versus the National Park Service (NPS) and the North End Ten, a group of local residents aiming to protect the end of Long Wharf as public parkland. The disagreements at Long Wharf began years ago in response to the BRA’s efforts to activate the area by licensing Doc’s Long Wharf, proposed to be a 220-seat, 4,655 square-foot eatery/bar with outdoor tables. While the BPDA continues to appeal, the latest court rulings have favored NPS and local resident efforts to maintain Long Wharf as a park for passive use. As a result, Boston Freedom Wheel LLC is looking to build beyond the disputed area into the water by building pilings off the edge of Long Wharf.
The Boston Freedom Wheel is the latest in a series of efforts to bring a ferris wheel to Boston. A similar, but separate, proposal was made in Charlestown Navy Yard and previously the Boston Winter exhibition was intended to include an observation wheel on City Hall Plaza. Boston Freedom Wheel LLC was originally was looking at the inlet in front of Christopher Columbus Park, but ran into opposition at that location so moved their proposal to Long Wharf.
Proponents have not released images of the Boston project to the public. Shown at the top of this post is the La Grande Roue de Montreal operated by the same owners as Boston Freedom Wheel LLC.