An 8th Avenue “supertall” tower containing an amusement park ride has been given the go-ahead by the city’s Department of Buildings — sparking pushback from local residents, who say the busy intersection is no place for a thrill ride.
Renderings for the large-scale project at 740 8th Avenue (between W45th and W46th Street) were revealed in October. It will feature a 1,067-foot tall, 51-story, 1,000-room hotel tower that includes a sky-high observation deck as well as a 90-second “free drop” indoor amusement park ride that sends patrons 260 feet in the air before plummeting to earth.
New York realty giant Extell Development Group has compared its ride design to that of a Six Flags attraction and projects that the building, designed by architects SLCE and ODA, will open in 2027. Extell purchased the land from fellow Midtown conglomerate Related Companies, which had previously planned a million-square-foot office tower on the site.
Local advocacy groups and members of Manhattan Community Board 5’s Land Use Committee (MCB5) oppose the project, arguing that the construction noise, congestion and density of an amusement park ride will adversely affect nearby businesses and residential quality of life. Olive Freud of the Committee for Environmentally Sound Development (which has previously battled against large-scale projects at 200 Amsterdam Avenue and saved Lincoln Square’s Damrosch Park from demolition), told Crain’s that Extell was “doing the wrong thing for Manhattan. They’re doing the wrong thing for New York. It’s impossible, and all they can do is bring in more density.”
MCB5 Land Use Chair Layla Law-Gisiko added: “Do I believe that amusement rides are appropriate for Midtown? Honestly, I don’t know. I have no idea. Maybe it’s fantastic. But what I know is that it’s a use that is not permitted.” She pointed out that the precedent set by adding amusement park rides could open the floodgates for similar projects in the area’s potential casinos.
Extell says the site’s design complies with current city zoning rules for the Theater District and would be an economic boon to the area. “This building will provide significant economic development benefits to the city of New York,” Extell spokeswoman Anna LaPorte told Crain’s.
Times Square Alliance President Tom Harris agreed. “New York City is constantly finding ways to show New Yorkers and visitors new ways to see this amazing city. Times Square is no stranger to new experiential offerings to entertain the millions of people who visit each year, including RiseNY and the Ferris Wheel in Toys R Us years ago,” Harris told W42ST. “This project is certainly no exception and we look forward to hearing more about it.”
DOB spokesperson Andrew Rudansky said, “The tower project and accessory amusement attraction complies with zoning,” adding that the city’s Zoning Resolution issued last March determines that because the project lands in the Theater Subdistrict Core of the Special Midtown District, construction may move forward. “Amusement attractions already exist in other midtown high-rise towers, including ‘City Climb’ Edge NYC in Hudson Yards, and ‘The Summit’ at One Vanderbilt,” added Rudansky. “Construction permits for the approved tower were issued earlier this month.”
But for the project’s closest neighbors, city regulations wouldn’t change significant periods of construction and disruption. Janet Restino, who has lived across the street from 740 8th Avenue for 30 years and has been documenting the building’s construction since it started, said communication between developers and residents about the project has been almost nonexistent. “The first time I heard about the project was reading about it in the newspaper,” said Janet. “I immediately looked them up and left a message, but of course, nobody ever called me back — they just do their thing.” She added that scores of residents have moved out of her building due to the noise. “If you talk to the building’s doorman, they’ll mention ‘Oh, we had someone move in and out in just two months because they couldn’t take the noise.’”
Longtime residents weren’t the only ones suffering either, said Janet, who added that adjacent businesses like the Playwright Celtic Pub were constantly battered with noise from the construction site. We’ve reached out to the owner of the Playwright Celtic Pub for comment on the situation.
Janet said the W45/W46th Street Block Association was in the process of reaching out to the area’s elected leaders, including City Council Member Erik Bottcher, about the construction site. W42ST has reached out to Council Member Bottcher’s office, where a representative told us they have asked the developer for a briefing.
And while there may be no reversing the amusement ride’s progress, residents argue that the implementation of another mega-hotel is far from necessary for the area. Currently, the 1,331-room ROW Hotel next door on 8th Avenue is closed and being used to house migrants rather than tourists. “As a resident, I don’t see why this needs to be built,” Janet said. “With the area’s foot traffic and pedestrian traffic and cars and buses, it’s already congested — and this will just pour more congestion in. I shudder to think of what kind of accident could happen. This is the most unnecessary thing for New York — we need more housing for people without yachts.”