Atlanta to get 20-story Ferris wheel from Paris, via Pensacola

ATLANTA Tue May 21, 2013 2:32am EDT

ATLANTA (Reuters) - Downtown Atlanta will soon look a little more like London, after a decision by city council members on Monday to allow the construction of a 20-story Ferris wheel similar to the popular London Eye on the banks of the Thames River.

The "SkyView Atlanta" wheel, which will be less than half the height of the London Eye, will be re-located from Pensacola, Florida, to a spot near Centennial Olympic Park, which was constructed for the 1996 Summer Olympics.

Two St. Louis developers purchased the wheel a year ago and moved it from Paris, near the Louvre museum, to Pensacola, said their spokesman, Jason Evans.

The move to Atlanta is designed to attract more riders, Evans said, adding that no tax dollars would be used for the project.

Unlike open-air Ferris wheels, the Atlanta ride will feature climate-controlled gondolas that can seat up to six people at a time.

The wheel should be in place and ready to open in about three weeks, Evans said, and visitors will pay $12 to $14 per ride.

"I think it's a winner for us," City Councilman Kwanza Hall said. "It's something we're not spending city money on. We're not using city property. These are private developers who are making an investment in this part of town."

The London Eye averages more than 3.75 million visitors a year, according to the company that operates it.

(Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Dan Grebler)