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Graphic: ICON.

Construction to begin on 150-foot Ferris wheel in downtown Kansas City

A family-friendly attraction that will add to the Kansas City skyline is expected to be completed this fall. Workers soon will begin piecing together a 150-foot-tall Ferris wheel providing panoramic views of downtown Kansas City’s skyline in the Pennway Point entertainment district.

ICON Experiences in recent months has undergone foundation work, drilling 32 piers about 40 feet into the bedrock, to support the future KC Wheel. Wheel parts were delivered last week to the six-acre former Carter-Waters industrial site, located northwest of Pennway and 25th streets between Interstate 35 and the IRS Processing Center. ICON, a Maryland-based firm that provides development and management services for entertainment projects, is preparing to put together the observation wheel itself. The assembly will begin with the wheel’s support legs and axle, followed by placement of its spokes and ring beam. The group targets a quick turnaround, with completion in the fall.

“We got asked a fair amount through the process, why Kansas City?” said Eli Stovall, CEO and managing partner of ICON. “And I think our answer, once we got accustomed to it was, why not? You’d have to be living under a rock not to see everything that is just exploding in Kansas City.”


The KC Wheel compared to others around the world.

Pennway Point announced that the first tenants will be in place when the entertainment area opens next year. Developers are working to turn the buildings into large restaurant and entertainment spaces with a variety of food and drink options.

Barrel Hall will house Boulevard Brewery’s Barrel Aged Tasting Experience and Taproom, sausage stand Wurstl, Chef J BBQ and The Bull Creek Distillery. The hall will have enough room for 150 people to sit under its curved roof with room for another 100 visitors in the attached Smoke Shack.

Next door, TaleGate will house Beef & Bottle, Funk House and Talegate Park, giving visitors food and music options, with performance spaces for concerts and gameday activities. Indoor areas will have DJs playing music from the 1960s and 1970s while visitors pass through to a balcony area with seating areas. The six-acre development will be open from 10 a.m. through midnight, striving to be a family-friendly spot with activities for people of all ages throughout the day.

The Ferris wheel, though, will not set any records. It will be just the 109th tallest wheel in the world and the 18th tallest in the U.S. – the same height as Navy Pier in Chicago and the one in Branson, Mo.

The tallest Ferris wheel in the world is the Ain Dubai at a dizzying 820 feet. Las Vegas sports the tallest in the U.S. coming in at a lofty 550 feet. The wheel in St. Louis is 200 feet tall. There are currently at least 140 Ferris wheels in operation around the world.

–Alan Goforth

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