Rich Marin spent most of his career in investment banking. Now, he’s literally changing the New York City Skyline
by Jessica Jones-Gorman • Photos By Amessé Photography
Before Rich Marin breaks ground on the New York Wheel and forever changes the skyline of New York City, the longtime investment banker will first make a formal change of address.
“I’ve never been one to chase down the latest, greatest, hottest area, running out and snapping up real estate in Williamsburg or some other trendy neighborhood, but as I’ve increased my Staten Island presence over the past few years, I’ve really been made to feel welcome here, and think this will become an interesting and exciting place to live,” Marin noted.
The president and CEO at The New York Wheel, LLC, will take up residence at Bay Street Landing in St. George this month, less than one mile away from the iconic, 630-foot tourist attraction that his company is currently in the process of configuring.
“I do think that St. George and Staten Island are due for bit of a renaissance,” Marin said. “They really deserve the attention and boost that new development can give.”
For Marin, who grew up “all over the world” courtesy of his mother’s job as a United Nations diplomat, the borough move serves merely as an extension of his city existence. (He has been a resident of lower Manhattan for the past three decades.)
“I lived for many years in Latin America, attended high school in Rome, and then came to New York to attend Cornell,” he said. “I’ve lived here basically all of my adult life.”
Marin spent most of his career in investment banking, spending 23 years at the New York Bankers Trust before it was acquired by Deutsche Bank. He then became the chairman of Deutsche Bank Asset Management before founding Beehive Ventures LLC, a New York based venture capital fund specializing in financial services. In June 2003, he was hired as chairman and CEO of Bear Stearns Asset Management, but left that company in 2007. His other professional credits include a CEO position with AFI, a $3 billion distressed commercial real estate company, and a CEO stint at Ironwood Global, a distressed mortgage fund. He became involved with The New York Wheel in 2010.
“Quite frankly, this is dramatically different than anything I’ve ever done,” Marin said. “But I’m a sucker for new and interesting things, and this is about as new and interesting as anything I could imagine. This entire process thus far has been both challenging and rewarding, and throughout the life of the project I’ve had to use every one of the skills sets I’ve acquired.”
The iconic structure, which will be the tallest observation wheel in the world (and the only one in the city), will accommodate up to 1,440 people per ride, welcoming as many as 30,000 visitors per day and an anticipated four million per year. It has been identified with and compared to the London Eye, which opened on the South Bank of the River Thames in 2000.
“It’s an historic addition to the skyline of New York City, more along the lines of the Washington Monument or the St. Louis Arch than a carnival Ferris wheel,” Marin said. “It’s of a scale and importance to warrant being thought of in that sort of way, and I think that’s what gives me the most pride—the idea that we’re going to create something that will be here for many, many years to come is very fulfilling. I believe we’re building something that everyone in Staten Island, in New York City, and in America can look at with a great deal of pride.”
The Wheel and its Terminal building will also strive for Platinum LEED certification, the highest level of energy efficient and resource sustainable building standards. Project developers further note that because it is located on the harbor, the North Shore can generate significant sustainable energy to not only power the Wheel, but to provide excess energy in assisting with the needs of the borough more broadly— something that Staten Islanders have already taken note of.
“They have really embraced what we’re doing, and while this sort of thing isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and every project does have its detractors, the borough and the people in it have been overwhelmingly supportive.”
Both Marin and his wife, Kim, a cabaret singer, have taken active roles in many Island organizations, including the boards of the St. George Theater and Snug Harbor as well as participating in a group formed by Borough President James Oddo to discuss the revitalization of the St. George waterfront.
“Never in my career or in my life have I really gotten involved in local affairs,” Marin said. “Now, because this is such a big part of what’s happening in Staten Island, I’m sort of getting a crash course and full immersion in local affairs.”
Which makes the executive feel very much at home.
“The people here have made us feel very welcome; I think they really appreciate what we’re doing for the borough,” Marin concluded. “It’s a wonderful feeling and I think that’s what I like most about Staten Island.”
New York Wheel LLC
212.235.5290 / newyorkwheel.com