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Newport SkyWheel finally on its way — for real this time

Posted at 11:01 PM, Apr 23, 2019

NEWPORT, Ky. — No, really.

No. Really.

The Newport Skywheel, a $15 million riverfront attraction originally scheduled to open in late 2017 — then delayed to late 2018, and then delayed again — hopped one of its last hurdles Tuesday in a vote of the Newport City Commissioners, according to City Manager Tom Fromme.

The yearslong delay between the announcement of a forthcoming ferris wheel at Newport on the Levee and a successful vote to build it stemmed from the Army Corps of Engineers’ belief that previous plans posed “an unacceptable risk to the levee embankment.” In the meantime, Cincinnati got its own (temporary) ferris wheel across the river.

The commission voted Tuesday to approve a lease for a 235-foot-tall permanent observation wheel at Newport on the Levee, having finally arrived at a plan that wouldn’t jeopardize the levee’s flood protection.

Fromme hopes it will become a tourist attraction that brings more business to the levee, which was recently purchased from California-based Price Group by Cincinnati-based North American Properties. The latter intends to spend $100 million on renovations that integrate the levee into the surrounding community.

Heather Buchwald, who visited the levee Tuesday night, said she could already see the wheel’s appeal.

“I think people on dates (would go),” she said. “And definitely kids.”

St. Louis-based Koch Development had previously estimated construction would take around a year. No groundbreaking date had been set by Tuesday.

Let’s not jinx it again by trying to estimate when we’ll be able to ride.