From left: Frank Dame, Jeff Lampasso, John Draheim, Karen Jubrail, Grace Dunlap, Paul Auslander, Cindy Margiotta, Pinellas board of county commissioners chairman Kenneth T. Welch and Mike Meidel.

Aquarium sees rising tide of support for major expansion project

Clearwater Marine Aquarium will net $15.9 million from bond program.
By: 
Mar. 29, 2018

CLEARWATER — The Clearwater Marine Aquarium is set to receive $15.9 million from an industrial revenue bond (IRB) issued by the Pinellas County Economic Development Authority.

The aquarium has embarked on a $66 million, multi-year expansion that it hopes to complete by 2020, according to a press release, and IRB financing will help it meet that goal.

Aquarium officials applied for the $15.9 million IRB financing in January 2018 and received approval on March 20, the release states.

“We are pleased to work with the Clearwater Marine Aquarium to help expand their facilities to further their mission of rescuing and rehabilitating marine animals and educating our citizens and visitors about the importance of conservation and sustainable ecosystems," states Kenneth Welch, chairman of the Pinellas Board of County Commissioners.

The expansion 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. A larger facility will also allow the organization to rescue and rehabilitate many more animals, according to the release.

Industrial revenue bonds are issued by local governments on behalf of qualified manufacturers nonprofit organizations and offer tax-free, below-market-rate, long-term financing of land, buildings and equipment.