According to the Tampa Bay Report, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium plans a multi-million dollar expansion. The plans include five new dolphin habitats, exhibit space, an elevated deck, the final phase of a 378-space parking structure and a new building for guest and educational space. This project will also allow the Aquarium to rescue and rehabilitate many more animals and species.
Below is an excerpt from the Tampa Bay Report’s November 3, 2018 article. To read the full story, click here.
Clearwater Marine Aquarium Plans Multi-Million Dollar Expansion
CLEARWATER BEACH – The Clearwater Marine Aquarium is planning a $66-mllion, multi-year expansion.
Plans for the expansion include five new dolphin habitats, exhibit space, an elevated deck, the final phase of a 378-space parking structure and a new building for guest and educational space. It will triple the rescued dolphin habitat and the increased volume of water will allow all non-releasable animals more room for exercise, play, and interaction with each other and their human team of animal care specialists.
When the expansion is completed in 2020, CMA will be able to double the number of rehabilitation cases being treated at once. There will be more natural underwater rock formations, large viewing windows for both visitors and the animal care team, and the large medical habitat will be equipped with an elevating floor to minimize stress on the animal during medical checkups.
The aquarium has frequently had to turn away animals for rehabilitation due to space limitations. This project will allow it to rescue and rehabilitate many more animals and additional species.
“Expanding our facility will not only enhance the guest experience but will also improve the quality of life for our non-releasable marine residents and increase care for rescued animals while they are hospitalized receiving life-saving treatments.” said David Yates, president and aquarium CEO.
The total project cost is $66 million. CMA has received funding from both the state and the city of Clearwater for this project. In 2017 CMA was awarded $26 million in funding through the Pinellas County Tourist Development Council’s Capital Projects Funding Program for some of the renovations associated with the proposed financing. About $15.9 million of the funding will come from the sale of bonds.
Industrial Revenue Bonds are issued by local governments on behalf of qualified manufacturers and 501(c) 3 non-profit organizations and offer tax-free, below-market-rate, long term financing of land, buildings and equipment.
“The Industrial Revenue Bond program is a fantastic tool for expanding businesses and non-profits,” said Cindy Margiotta, senior manager with Pinellas County Economic Development. “Using the IRB to help finance their capital costs will enable the Clearwater Marine Aquarium to rescue and rehabilitate many more animals and enhance the guests experience, which is good for the aquarium and Pinellas County.”