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London Eye copy for New York skyline?

A copy of the London Eye could soon be gracing the Manhattan waterfront, but architect David Marks is accusing Tussauds Group of going behind his back to draw up the plans.

The Tussauds Group, which operates the South Bank attraction, has been asked to carry out a feasibility study for a similar observation wheel as part of the redevelopment of Manhattan's East River waterfront.

The wheel between Battery Park and Brooklyn Bridge would give breathtaking views of the city from 450ft.

Architect David Marks, who came up with the original design with partner Julia Barfield, accused Tussauds of going behind the backs of the other partners in the London Eye Company: "It's a great idea to bring an Eye to Manhattan but it is something the London Eye Company should be doing. Tussauds are showing cheek."

Meanwhile the London Eye Company has reappointed Japanese lender Sumitomo Mitsui to advise it on refinancing the project by restructuring its crippling debt.

At present the London Eye Company is paying interest at the rate of 25 per cent. As a result, its debts have rocketed from 48 million in 2000 to 130 million this year.

The appointment may also herald a solution to the deadlock between Tussauds and the Eye's creators David Marks and Julia Barfield.

Charterhouse – which owns the Tussauds Group – has offered to buy the other shareholders (British Airways and Marks Barfield) out of the project, and may eventually want to list the company on the stock market.

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