Wanted: Rich People To Crowdfund The Hopes And Dreams Of Staten Island

Yo, you wanna piece of this giant frickin' Ferris wheel over here?
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Isn't Bayonne breathtaking?

For years—or at least since the Staten Island Hotel closed—New York’s forgotten borough’s most popular (only?) tourist attraction has been the boat the takes you away from Staten Island. And for free, at that. But back in May, some people decided to change all that, breaking ground on the most Staten Island-y tourist attraction imaginable: a rip-off of the London Eye that allows you to do the one of the only two things one does on Staten Island—look longingly back towards Manhattan—and then do the other when you get off, since they’re building a giant mall at its base, as well. It’s the perfect plan, one that Highbridge Capital Management has already gotten in on and clearly believes in, what with the $195 million loan at the low, low rate of 10.25%. Not a Highbridge investor or a foreigner looking for a green card, but still want in on this incredible action? A couple of Bear Stearns veterans have a piece of a 63-story Ferris wheel they’d like to sell you.

Project leaders of the New York Wheel, which has already raised around $450 million in equity and debt, plan to seek another $30 million through North Capital Private Securities, a Utah broker-dealer that intends to sell some of the new shares via its 99Funding online crowdfunding platform and other crowdfunding sites….

Jim Dowd, founder and chief executive of North Capital, said he believed that the $500 million New York Wheel project “is going to be the largest transaction we’re aware of that has crowdfunding.”

The sale of these new shares is possible under a JOBS Act provision that went into effect in 2013, allowing private stock sales to “accredited” wealthy investors who meet certain income or net-worth tests….

Construction on the wheel began in May, after the project raised $195 million in senior debt from the Highbridge Capital Management hedge fund unit of JPMorgan Chase, and $150 million in additional debt from CanAm Enterprises, under an American program that allows foreign nationals — CanAm investors, in this case — to gain legal residency in the United States by making job-creating investments.

Crowdfunding a $500 Million Ferris Wheel, With a Wall Street Spin [DealBook]

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