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Business Observer Friday, Feb. 11, 2011 9 years ago

Clearwater Marine Aquarium buys land

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The Clearwater Marine Aquarium purchased a 1.47-acre site east of the existing aquarium facilities for $3.1 million.

BUYER: Clearwater Marine Aquarium Inc. (principals: Thomas Orr, John Draheim, Rosemary Longenecker, Bruce Veghte, David Yates and Frank Dame), Clearwater


SELLER: Harbour Estates LLC


PROPERTY: a portion of Winward Passage east of Island Way, Clearwater


PRICE: $3.1 million


PREVIOUS PRICE: $3 million, May 2005


LAW FIRM ON DEED: Macfarlane Ferguson & McMullen, Clearwater


PLANS, DESCRIPTION: The Clearwater Marine Aquarium purchased a 1.47-acre site east of the existing aquarium facilities for $3.1 million.


The price equated to $2.11 million per acre.


The aquarium plans to use the vacant site for additional surface parking in the short-term. Eventually, however, it hopes to build a facility on the site to expand either its animal rehabilitation or environmental education and research work.


The property previously housed a boat repair and sales business, but those facilities were demolished in favor of proposed developments that never materialized.


“It was going to be a nine-story condominium tower, but that project went under,” says Clearwater Marine Aquarium CEO David Yates. “The next option they looked at was as a hotel.”


The aquarium financed the purchase through grants, private donations and an industrial revenue bond through the Pinellas County Economic Development Authority/Industrial Development Authority. The grants include $1 million from the Jacobson Foundation and $750,000 from the city of Clearwater.


The nonprofit aquarium has plans for more capital improvements, including a chloride mitigation system, animal care areas, bleachers and a 1,000-seat arena. An 11,300-square-foot addition to the existing aquarium and an additional parking garage are also in the future plans.

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