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ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — The new $14 million, 227-foot high Observation Wheel at Steel Pier has opened after months of delay.

Inspectors for the state Division of Community Affairs deemed the attraction safe, clearing the way for the ride to open, said Anthony Catanoso, president of Steel Pier. The ride won’t run if the temperature dips below 40 degrees, Catanoso said.

“It’s been frustrating, but building the deck took longer than expected,” Catanoso said.

Discussion about the wheel started in 2011 after the Catanoso family purchased the pier from Trump Entertainment for $4.25 million. They had been leasing the pier from Trump Entertainment for 18 years before the sale.

“We looked at the numbers and found that this was a viable and vibrant market,” Catanoso said. “You look at the numbers, and there are 25 million people coming to the city. We sat down and thought that this was the right decision.”

The wheel, which was purchased in Italy, features 40 enclosed cars that take passengers on a 16-minute ride, which will cost $15 for adults and $12 for kids.

Wadee Amin and his family were the first to ride the new attraction.

“When they told me I was the first one, I was really excited,” said Amin, of Saudi Arabia. “I really like this type of ride.”

The wheel is expected to draw 50,000 riders per month to take in views of the ocean and Atlantic City skyline from the gondolas, Catanoso said.

“It’s great that people are investing money in the city,” said Tom DiDato, a 63-year-old resident of the resort, as he walked down the Boardwalk looking up at the wheel. “The city needs more things for kids but I don’t know if it’s going to work.”

The openings of the Observation Wheel, Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City, and the potential reopening of Revel shows the future looks bright on the north end of the Boardwalk, said Mark Giannantonio, president and CEO of Resorts Casino Hotel.

“Things are really pointing up,” Giannantonio said during a recent chamber of commerce meeting. “You get the sense that the future is bright not only in the north end of the city but in the city overall. We believe that the north end of town is the city’s next great renaissance for A.C.”

Things like the Observation Wheel and Hard Rock will draw more people to the area, which will benefit all of the businesses in the area, Giannantonio said. “We want to welcome everyone back to the neighborhood.”




Information from: The Press of Atlantic City (N.J.),