SkyWheel proposed for Virginia Beach, Va., by the same company that built one in Myrtle Beach

dbryant@thesunnews.comApril 14, 2014 

The SkyWheel and Jimmy Buffett's LandShark Bar & Grill on opening day in 2011.

STEVE JESSMORE — The Sun News Buy Photo

The company that built the SkyWheel in Myrtle Beach isn’t getting the same kind of enthusiastic welcome in Virginia Beach, Va., as it did here, according to a newspaper report.

Koch Development Co. -- one of the partners that developed the SkyWheel in Myrtle Beach, which opened in 2011 -- has been met with concerns from some Virginia Beach officials, including the location on the company’s preferred oceanfront spot, according to a report by The Virginian-Pilot that appeared on the newspaper’s website, PilotOnline.com.

The city’s Planning Commission voted 7-2 last week to deny the plan, though the City Council will have the final word, according to the report.

Some city officials said the SkyWheel would be a good fit for the oceanfront, but several had concerns about the specific lot being too small to accommodate the wheel and too close to an adjacent hotel, with the hotelier concerned that riders would be able to see into the rooms and that the wheel’s lights would bother guests, The Virginian-Pilot reported.

Councilman John Uhrin, who visited the SkyWheel in Myrtle Beach, said he saw lines of tourists waiting to ride here – which also is what Virginia Beach would like to have – but he also took in how enormous the wheel is and imagined how it would look on the proposed lot in Virginia Beach, according to the newspaper.

In Myrtle Beach, city and business leaders heralded the SkyWheel’s arrival three years ago, along with the Jimmy Buffett’s LandShark Bar & Grill, which also was part of the $12 million project. Myrtle Beach leaders have said the SkyWheel, which stands 187-feet tall and has changed the beach’s skyline, has lured new visitors to the oceanfront area.

Myrtle Beach spokesman Mark Kruea said that Myrtle Beach never expected to be the only beach to boast a SkyWheel, and the potential of one opening in Virginia Beach doesn’t worry him.

“You can’t help but see it as competition but I’m not troubled by it,” he said. “We are comfortable with all that we have to see and do in Myrtle Beach.”

Contact DAWN BRYANT at 626-0296 or at dbryant@thesunnews.com or follow her at Twitter.com/TSN_dawnbryant.

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