ATLANTIC CITY — The president of the Steel Pier expects the amusement park’s largest attraction — and the one that will turn it into a year-round operation — to be ready by spring.

The 220-foot observation wheel has 40 climate-controlled gondolas that can provide heat in mid-winter and air conditioning during a summer heat wave.

Pier President Anthony Catanoso called the wheel a critical step in extending business at the pier and Atlantic City throughout the year.

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It is expected to run 365 days a year except during extreme weather, he said.

“They’re a great attraction for families, and it’s the first step in our becoming a year-round destination. That’s what we need to do,” he said Monday.

Pieces of the Italian-manufactured wheel are being shipped across the Atlantic Ocean in containers.

Two-thirds of it arrived in Atlantic City earlier this year.

Catanoso expected the remainder to begin being shipped by the end of August.

Assembling it can take three to four months, he said.

The wheel’s appearance in Atlantic City is behind its original schedule.

Catanoso cited “a few glitches in state permitting.”

He said the project got a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit two weeks ago.

The wheel is made by Technical Park in Melara, Italy, a ride manufacturer that makes Ferris wheels, log flumes, roller coasters and tea cups.

Catanoso said groups are starting to book trips to the wheel, which will provide about a 15-minute ride offering sweeping views of the coastline and the skyline.

“I think that’s going to jump start what we need to see in Atlantic City,” he said.

The total project cost is about $14 million, which includes funding help from the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority.

The observation wheel is part of a series of renovations and new rides coming to the Steel Pier in recent years.

Part of that plan has been to eventually have some of the attractions enclosed, making them suitable for customers throughout the year.

The Catanoso family and partners’ Steel Pier Associates LLC purchased the historic pier in 2011 for $4.25 million from Trump Entertainment Group.

They had leased the pier for 20 years prior.

Contact: 609-272-7253

Twitter @BIanieri

Local news editor at the Press of Atlantic City. SUNY Geneseo and Syracuse University grad. New Jersey transplant.

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