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New Ferris wheel to overlook US capital

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The Capital Wheel at National Harbor, Md., a large-scale observation wheel soaring 175 feet above the Potomac River with views of Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia. (AP)

Maryland's National Harbor plans to add a new 175-foot Ferris wheel with views of the nation's capital and Potomac River, similar to the London Eye and other large-scale observation wheels around the world, developers announced Thursday.

The 17-story Capital Wheel will debut in May as a new attraction at the resort development in Prince George's County. It will be based at the end of a new pier overlooking the river with views of the Capitol, National Mall and Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, according to developer Peterson Companies.

The $15 million attraction will include 42 gondolas with sound systems, heating and air conditioning. Planners said it will operate year round, and they expect it will attract 600,000 to 800,000 visitors each year. The London Eye is one of Britain's most popular tourist attractions, averaging 10,000 visitors daily, the developers said.

The Capital Wheel will host public, corporate and private events, offering catering by Wolfgang Puck with seasonal fare at the base of the ride.

Ferris wheels are named for the engineer who built the first one for the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago. The Capital Wheel is being built by Chance Rides of Wichita, Kan.

National Harbor has been steadily adding to its collection of attractions. It includes a massive Gaylord conference center, hotels, condominiums, the relocated National Children's Museum, new outlet stores, an ice rink and a carousel. Peterson also purchased and moved "The Awakening" sculpture from Washington's Hains Point to the site. More recently, MGM Resorts International won rights to build a $925 million casino resort there overlooking the river.

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