Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Clearwater agreement previews amenities, finances for new waterfront aquarium

A rendering of the proposed Clearwater Marine Aquarium, which would be built on the present location of City Hall, if voters approve leasing the land in a Nov. 5 referendum.

Courtesy of Clearwater Marine Aquarium

A rendering of the proposed Clearwater Marine Aquarium, which would be built on the present location of City Hall, if voters approve leasing the land in a Nov. 5 referendum.

CLEARWATER — A draft agreement between the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and the city contains new details and key financial information about a $160 million aquarium proposed for Clearwater's downtown waterfront.

The memorandum of understanding, obtained by the Tampa Bay Times on Tuesday, will be discussed publicly for the first time at a City Council meeting next week.

The document states that the aquarium would pay the city $150,000 a year to lease the waterfront land on Osceola Avenue where Clearwater City Hall now stands.

The payments would begin after the aquarium paid the city $7.5 million toward a new City Hall — a sum the aquarium would generate through a 50-cent surcharge on admission to the proposed three-story, 200,000-square-foot facility. The land lease would be for 60 years.

Clearwater voters will decide whether to lease the land to the aquarium in a Nov. 5 referendum to be paid for by the aquarium.

City and aquarium officials stressed that the terms of the agreement could change.

"This is sort of an agreement to agree. Nothing is binding until the voters decide," said City Attorney Pam Akin.

David Yates, the aquarium's CEO, said "both sides are very happy" with the agreement.

The city could bear significant costs if the new aquarium is built, including paying to extend Pierce Street to Drew Street and building a roundabout at the western end of Cleveland Street. The cost would be about $615,000, said Mike Quillen, city engineering director.

The city isn't obligated to make those street improvements, Yates said. "That's their call."

The city also would pay for removing asbestos from the old City Hall before the aquarium demolished it. If all three floors contain asbestos, the removal could be "quite expensive," Quillen said.

The benefits of a new aquarium would outweigh city costs, Yates said. The aquarium would expand the tax base downtown and relieve city taxpayers of paying for a new City Hall, he said.

The aquarium also would pay the city $300,000 for four tennis courts that would be destroyed.

The agreement contains some hints of what aquarium officials want to build if they get voter approval of the lease:

• On the first level of the three-level attraction: Everglades, manatee and otter exhibits, a children's area and classrooms.

• On level 2, a large touch tank; coral reef exhibit; dolphin stadium; octopus, jellyfish and sea horse exhibits; turtle tank; and 4-D theater.

• On level 3, 2-D and 4-D theaters, movie prop and coral reef exhibits, community rooms, rooftop deck and catering kitchen.

"Those things can change. It's not fully designed, but a working model," Yates said.

One detail left to iron out: where a parking garage would be built and who would operate it.

Aquarium-owned land on the south side of City Hall is "still the likely location," Yates said, but officials are looking at alternatives.

Under the agreement, the aquarium would be responsible for acquiring land for the garage, but an option is included for the city to build and operate the garage and keep the revenue.

Charlie Frago can be reached at or (727) 445-4159. You can follow him on Twitter @CharlieFrago

Clearwater agreement previews amenities, finances for new waterfront aquarium 08/06/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 6, 2013 10:25pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Here kitty, kitty ...


    In a toned down version of the annual rookie dress-up day based on MLB's new anti-hazing policy, Rays rookie players and staff - plus second-year LHP Blake Snell - donned DJ Kitty onesies for the trip to New York.

    Rays rookie players and staff - joined here by Alex Colome - sporting their DJ Kitty onesies before the flight to New York.
  2. Pasco residents affected by Irma invited to town hall meeting

    Local Government

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Representatives from Pasco County Emergency Management and the Federal Emergency Management Agency will play host to a town hall-style meeting from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday in the first-floor boardroom of the West Pasco Government Center, 8731 Citizens Drive, New Port Richey

    Sandra Cunningham assesses the damage a water oak did to her Church Avenue home when it crashed into her bedroom roof during Hurricane Irma.
  3. Lightning's Nikita Kucherov has a lot to say — about moving on to a much better season

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Nikita Kucherov sits back in his stall and smiles.

    Laughs a little, too.

    Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) prepares for a faceoff during the first period of Friday's  (9/22/17) preseason game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Nashville Predators at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  4. Clearwater man shot, seriously injured


    CLEARWATER — A shooting Sunday morning in unincorporated Clearwater left one man seriously injured, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

  5. Mother of double amputee Ireland Nugent to lose her own lower right leg

    Human Interest

    Ever since Ireland Nugent lost both her lower legs in a lawn-mowing accident five years ago, the Clearwater girl has inspired her mother, Nicole Del Corpo-Nugent, with the courage she has shown in overcoming the tragedy.

    Nicole Del Corpo-Nugent, left, looked on as her daughter Ireland threw out the first pitch when the Tampa Bay Rays played the Houston Astros at Tropicana Field on June 22, 2014. Jerry Nugent held his daughter for the pitch. Now Nicole Del Corpo-Nugent is facing surgery to amputate her own lower right leg due to a rare infection. WILL VRAGOVIC  |  Times (2014)