The political controversy over the funding arrangements of the i360 will no doubt go on.
But with construction due to begin this week the ambitious project has taken a massive physical step forward.
Barring a catastrophe the viewing tower will almost certainly be built, putting pay to the naysayers and doubters – for now.
The international team which created the London Eye met with Sussex firms on Brighton seafront ahead of the start of construction.
The i360 will be the tallest visitor observation attraction in the UK outside of London and has been designed by Marks Barfield architects.
Civil contractor JT Mackley, based in Henfield, and Hemsley Orrell Partnership (HOP), based in Hove, will team up with American Jacobs Engineering Group, Hollandia from Holland, Poma from France and London-based Marks Barfield.
JT Mackley, founded in 1926, was given the responsibility of carrying out ground-works and building the i360 conference centre.
The firm has previously worked on storm overflow sewers on Brighton Beach for Southern Water, reconstructed the Brighton beach colonnades and carousel, coastal maintenance on Brighton Beach from Shoreham Harbour to Rottingdean and strengthening works for both piers over the years.
Managing director Tony Camilleri said: “We are very much looking forward to bringing our local knowledge and coastal experience to the project and to working with this international team on what will become a world famous landmark.”
As well as a moving observation tower experience, the i360 will incorporate a restaurant, retail shop, exhibition space and conference facilities at beach level. The attraction will be run by Brighton i360 Ltd, who’s CEO is tourism expert Eleanor Harris. David Marks and Julia Barfield, creators of the Brighton i360 and the London Eye, said: “We have the opportunity to create something truly unique and of international renown here in Brighton and Hove. We are excited to be working again with this top team and we are all looking forward to seeing the opening of the attraction in summer 2016.”
Experts estimate an average of 739,000 people per year will visit over the next decade.
Mackley says it will have 70 people working on the site and at least 10 new jobs will be created, which will be advertised locally.
An economic impact study has estimated 440 full time positions will be created in Brighton.
When the attraction opens, it will create approximately 169 jobs across the attraction, including marketing and sales, catering, finance, HR, engineering and visitor services.
Brighton i360 Ltd has committed to the living wage and plans to pay above the average for Brighton to attract really good people.
It will be offering apprenticeships and management training opportunities.
It has also appointed local communications agencies Thank Social and Natural PR.
Eleanor Harris, CEO of Brighton i360 Ltd, said: “Aside from creating lots of jobs, and bringing in over £1million in interest payments to the city at a time of cuts, the i360 will bring more visitors to Brighton.
“The estimate is up to 300,000 more visitors, and in particular we will be focusing on the high value overnight stays and conference visitors.
“All this is good for all the businesses that get trade from tourists – the hotels, restaurants, shops, attractions, bars.
“Tourism is a really vital industry in Brighton – it employs nearly 20,000 people and earns the city around £1 billion every year.
“It will help clear up that part of the seafront and the seafront is the city’s shop window.
“It is really good for this part of the city, which is in need of regeneration. It will encourage visitors to go west and is of benefit to Preston Street as well as generally creating a better distribution of tourists.
“We have exhibition space and will have changing exhibits of local artists. We hope to become a cultural hub for Brighton to create a new beach quarter along with the renovated arches.
“Brighton is already an amazing destination but it can’t be complacent and must continue to innovate to compete with other destinations.”
Nardo Hoogendijk, managing director of Hollandia, said: “We are very proud to be involved in such a project, following our successful partnership on the London Eye. We are excited to be reunited with the same team again to create another inspiring visitor attraction.”
Poma, who built the 32 London Eye capsules, is a French company which manufactures cable-driven lift systems, including funiculars, aerial tram ways, people movers, and surface lifts. It is responsible for the construction of the i360 pod, which will be large enough to contain 200 visitors with a birds eye view standing side by side.
Francis Charamel, President of Sigma, the division of Poma responsible for this project, said: “Poma is very pleased to be associated with this unique project and we’re extremely grateful that David Marks has put this confidence in us, following our long and successful partnership.”