The year was 1884. After nine years of construction, The Statue of Liberty was finally on the verge of being completed...
But then the city ran out of money. The entire project was put on hold.
Luckily, Joseph Pulitzer, the newspaper publisher who created the Pulitzer Prize for journalism, took to his “New York World” newspaper and encouraged Americans to donate so Lady Liberty could be completed.
Within 6 months, more than 125,000 people had donated over $100,000.
And thank goodness they did:
Not only has Lady Liberty become an important international landmark, but every year, it brings in more than $127 million in ticket sales for the city.
This was one of the first “crowdfunded” projects in history—and while it was beneficial for the city, the folks who donated didn’t receive any of the upside.
But today we’ll show you a tourist attraction in NYC that you can help get off the ground—and this time, you can get a piece of the profits.
The New York Wheel
Just a few miles south of the Statue of Liberty lies Staten Island.
Staten Island is one of the five boroughs of New York City—and it also happens to be the site of the city’s next major tourist attraction: “The New York Wheel.”
The New York Wheel will be a 630-foot high “observation” Ferris wheel and park—similar to the “London Eye” that sits on the banks of the River Thames in London.
The Wheel will offer sweeping views of the New York and New Jersey harbors as well as the Manhattan skyline.
There’s currently nothing like it in all of New York.
The Wheel is part of a broader development project on Staten Island:
A 68,000 square foot terminal building is also being constructed, as well as a new shopping mall (Empire Outlets) that’s expected to draw 6 million shoppers annually.
Bottom line: Liberty Island, home to the Statue of Liberty, might soon be taking a back seat to Staten Island.
Competing With The Statue of Liberty Won’t Be Cheap
The New York Wheel project broke ground this past May, and is expected to open in mid-2017.
Its $533 million cost is being financed with private funds from a diverse set of backers.
Nearly $500 million has already been committed, and attracting the additional $30 million or so won’t likely be an issue...
But the project’s developers decided to take a page from Lady Liberty’s playbook:
They’re allowing regular citizens (people just like you) to “crowdfund” the rest of the development costs.
But unlike The Statue of Liberty’s crowdfunded donations, these contributions will entitle you to an equity stake in The New York Wheel.
In other words, you’ll be granted a piece of the profits. And based on the developer’s estimates, those profits could be substantial.
Wheel of Fortune
Here are some key metrics:
- Over 56 million tourists visit New York City annually
- 84% of them come to sightsee
- 3.5 million visit the Statue of Liberty
- Developers are estimating 3.5 million annual visitors to the New York Wheel
At $35 for a regular ticket, that’s roughly $120 million in revenue.
If you add an additional 30% for sponsorships, concession stands and gift shops, revenue estimates rise to $150 million per year.
Based on those estimates, the developers expect the project to be profitable by 2018.
Here’s how you can get involved...
There’s a new equity crowdfunding platform that launched earlier this year: 99Funding.
It’s similar to other funding platforms that we feature here on Crowdability (for a brief explanation of how they work, watch this short video here »
99Funding has partnered with the developers behind The New York Wheel to allow all investors to own a piece of this iconic project.
After you register for the website here, you’ll be able to access the deal "data room." That’s where you’ll see everything from detailed construction plans and timetables to revenue and profit forecasts.
A couple of things to note, however:
- Currently, only accredited investors can access this deal. (That will change very soon once the final portion of The JOBS Act passes.)
- Even though this is different than the high-risk start-up ventures we typically feature, making an investment in any illiquid private project is inherently risky. Therefore, if you do decide to invest in The New York Wheel project, only commit a small amount of capital that you can afford to lose.