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SEATTLE The family that owns the Great Wheel Ferris wheel on the Seattle waterfront is proposing a downtown gondola line that would carry tourists and commuters on elevated cable cars.

The proposed gondola would travel above Union Street between the waterfront and the state Convention Center with a stop at the Pike Place Market. The goal is to have the gondola running in a couple of years when the Alaskan Way Viaduct is replaced by a highway tunnel.

The gondola cars are expected to be 40 to 50 feet high, about four to five stories. And it would pass the luxury 4 Seasons Hotel residences and the living rooms of 98 Union, expensive condos at 1st and Union streets.

At a presentation given by developer Kyle Griffith Tuesday, some condo owners in attendance complained, saying they hadn't been notified of the project, which could lower their property values.

The gondolas are expected to move down the street every 20 seconds, carrying nearly 20,000 people a day.

It feels creepy, said one condo owner.

There are still big hurdles ahead for the gondola project: environmental studies, city right-of-ways and public hearings. Developers say they will work with concerned property owners over the privacy issue.

Griffith says his dad initially conceived the idea after hearing people had difficulties getting from the market to the waterfront and seeing the success of other gondolas in the U.S., such as the Portland Tram, and internationally.

So far, the project has support from the Convention Center, the Port of Seattle and the Waterfront Association. And best part, the project wouldn't cost taxpayers a dime to build.


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