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Myrtle Beach SkyWheel Soars to Completion

Mon May 02, 2011 - Southeast Edition
Brenda Ruggiero

In Myrtle Beach, S.C., a one-of-a-kind sky-high project is rapidly moving toward completion. Beginning in May, the Myrtle Beach SkyWheel will carry people 200 ft. in the air in 42 temperature-controlled, Swiss-manufactured, fully enclosed gondolas. Each ride will last from 10 to 12 minutes and will make three loops. A nightly LED light show also will be featured.

The ride, which is located at the Oceanfront Boardwalk and Promenade, is the only observation wheel of its kind in the United States, the second in North America and the largest wheel of any kind east of the Mississippi River.

The companies behind the attraction are Koch Development, which is under the direction of David Busker, president; and Pacific Development, which is owned and operated by Todd Schneider and Al Mers. Both companies are based in St. Louis. Mers has been on site monitoring construction and keeping the project on budget and on schedule.

Below the SkyWheel, Koch Development and Margaritaville Enterprises are joining to create the first-ever Landshark Beachfront Bar and Grill, which is a new concept in the Jimmy Buffett line.

The contract for the project, which is funded by private sources, and reportedly tops $12 million, was awarded to Chancel Builders Inc. The company’s president is McKenzie Jordan, the site supervisor is Victor Woods, and the project manager is Mike Chappell. The scope of work includes demolition of two hotels, site work, the foundation for the SkyWheel and construction of a restaurant, gift shop and control room on elevated pylons.

“This is an entertainment attraction built on elevated pylons,” said Chris Trout, Myrtle Beach SkyWheel general manager. “It is a combination of a prefab ride with buildings assembled around it.”

Work began in October 2010, and the attraction is set to open in May.

“Lots of concrete, steel and wood,” are the materials used as reported by Trout. There are “more than 1,000 yards of concrete in the foundation alone and more than 350,000 pounds of steel in the A-frame alone.”

To support the SkyWheel, 106 piles were installed 30 ft. (9.1 m) into the ground. A 12-ft. (3.7 m) cap of solid concrete was placed on top of that to provide support not only for the wheel’s height, but also for the beach winds that will batter the wheel daily.

As is to be expected, the project is not without challenges.

“There is limited access in a tight space, as we are doing all of this on only a one-half-acre site,” Trout noted. “We have about 60 people on site that have to work around each other.”

About 100 people are assigned to the job. All subcontractors are from the greater Myrtle Beach and Conway areas, and include demolition, crane, sitework, foundation, framers, electricians, plumbers, roofers, landscapers, signage, window and door and welders.

Subcontractors include 31-W Insulation Co. Inc.; A & A Garage Doors; Active Glass & Mirror; Atlantic Systems & Awning Co.; Billy’s Plumbing Co. LLC; Donald Causey Construction LLC; Elvis Welding Service Inc.; Grand Strand Fire Sprinkler; Hardwick’s Landscaping LCC; Hunt Mason Construction Services LLC; Hunt Wall & Ceiling Systems Inc.; Jordan Mechanical LLC; Myrtle Beach Granite & Marble dba Grassie Granite & Marble; Owens Steel & Machine Works Inc.; Richardson & Richardson Inc.; Rowe Professional Services Company; S & D Contractors LLC; The Flooring Depot of Myrtle Beach; Thompkins & Associates Inc.; and Thompson Cabinets & Millwork Inc.

The equipment list for the demolition by Thompkins Construction included a 5299 American Crane, a Vulcan #1 hammer pile driving rig, a 300 Komatsu excavator, a Dresser TD15 dozer and a Bobcat 331 backhoe.

For site work, which was done by Richardson & Richardson, equipment included a Komatsu PC50 excavator and a Komatsu PC200 excavator.

For general work, which was done by Chancel, the list included a Lull 9000#, a JLG 60-ft. (18.3 m) personnel lift, a Bobcat skid steer, a Genie Lift 135-ft. (41 m) personnel lift, and a Case 580 with auger cast ICE 3060.

Cranes, which were provided by Coastal Crane and were all by Grove, included a 240T, a 120T, a 60T and a 30T.

Also used on the job were two JLG 125 personnel lifts.

Most of the rental equipment came from United Rentals in Myrtle Beach. This included the JLG lifts, Genie lifts, Bobcat skid steer and Case 580.

Take a look at this video of the completed structure from New York City Files:

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