SHANGHAI, China – China's commercial hub of Shanghai has abandoned plans to build a Ferris wheel that would have been the world's tallest, a city official said Friday.
"The project has definitely been canceled," said the official from the North Bund Development Office, who gave only his surname, Du, because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
He said officials were instead looking for private investors to build an office tower on the site, just north of the famed riverfront Bund financial district.
Du gave no reason for the project's cancellation, although it comes amid a widening investigation into misuse of city pension funds that has brought new scrutiny for a number of glitzy mega-projects.
Announced last May, the Ferris wheel was to have had a diameter of 558 feet and sit atop a 164-foot tall entertainment complex housing a theater and other attractions. A revolving restaurant was to have been attached to its support pillars 427 feet up.
The London Eye rises 450 feet above Britain's capital and is currently the world's tallest Ferris wheel.
However, that title could be challenged by a new Ferris wheel in the southern Chinese city of Nanchang that is purportedly 525 feet tall, the official Xinhua News Agency said.
Shanghai in recent years has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on expensive signature projects such as a Formula One auto racing track and the world's only commercially operating magnetic levitation train.
Many of those projects, criticized for their expense and dubious commercial value, appear to have become political liabilities following the dismissal of Shanghai's Communist Party secretary, Chen Liangyu, in September.
The ouster came amid allegations that he and other city officials allowed $400 million in government-held pension funds to be illicitly invested in potentially risky real estate and toll road projects.
Reports last year put the Shanghai wheel's estimated total cost at $332 million.