San Francisco Fisherman's Wharf booming with return of SkyStar Wheel

Melanie Woodrow Image
Saturday, July 6, 2024
SF Fisherman's Wharf booming with return of SkyStar Wheel
After being closed for several weeks, the SkyStar Wheel has reopened at Fisherman's Wharf.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- After being closed for several weeks, the SkyStar Wheel has reopened at Fisherman's Wharf. It was taken down for additional work to fulfill the requirements of an 18-month permit extension from the Port of San Francisco. It returned on Wednesday.

If it seems to you like there's more foot traffic at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco recently, you wouldn't be wrong.

Randall Scott, the executive director of the Fisherman's Wharf Community Benefit District says it's part of the rebirth here.

"We look at it as an opportunity," said Scott.

This week, the wharf welcomed back the SkyStar Wheel, just in time for the long holiday weekend.

RELATED: SF's giant Ferris wheel officially moving to Fisherman's Wharf waterfront

"You just hang out. We'll be back," said Todd Barbee, business development director of SkyStar as he took an ABC7 News crew onto the observation wheel.

"This is absolutely the best way to see San Francisco," Barbee said.

SkyStar, which once lived at Golden Gate Park before being moved to Fisherman's Wharf for the APEC summit last November, recently got a makeover you might not notice -- a more permanent foundation for its 18-month permit.

"We had to disassemble the entire wheel and move it 15 feet to the west," Barbee said.

MORE: Here's a look at a proposed plan to add new attractions to SF's Pier 45 at iconic Fisherman's Wharf

From Texas...

"Looks very clean to me, people are very nice, I think it's a great place to come visit," said Joyce Bowers visiting from Dallas.

To British Columbia...

"I had heard that it had gone downhill and that things weren't quite the same but all the places we've been have looked great," said tourist Paul Rochon.

And the south of France...

"What do you think of this right here? I think it's good because we can see all of San Francisco and we can see the ocean and it's cool," said Lou Saccoccio.

Tourists were eager to get on.

MORE: Gov. Newsom touts CA tourism numbers. Here's why they're deceiving as SF businesses struggle

It's not just about bringing tourists to the area. Those involved with the wheel say they hope that residents re-discover all there is to love about Fisherman's Wharf and the city by the Bay.

"Come back and enjoy your wharf," Scott said.

Local businesses are noticing the difference.

"It is booming right now," said Nick Brooks, $10 Dollar Hoodie Store Manager.

"Sixty percent are from Hayward or Fremont or somewhere else," Brooks said.

MORE: SF launches Downtown First Thursdays to attract visitors, boost businesses

Memories of restaurants closing and cars being broken into are beginning to fade.

"Ever since the news started coming out saying that all the break-ins are happening, people started coming less and less and less. But now, I think this is helping -- the wheel is helping -- but we are coming back, stronger than ever," Brooks said.

"I haven't seen broken glass in at least a week," Scott said.

A 360 degree view of what's possible for San Francisco.

"When you are riding the wheel, it's very important that you shift seats halfway through the wheel. And the reason is, it's almost like two entirely different rides," Barbee said.

And a reminder when looking ahead and looking back to take it all in.

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