ESJ Capital Partners LLC, is set to take over the lease of Jungle Island on Watson Island. It is planning investments and improvements to turn the tropical attraction into a new all-day experience for visitors.
Its plans to develop the attraction involve adding a zipline, water features and enhanced dining and entertainment facilities. The 18 acre property is owned and leased by The City of Miami.
Speaking to Miami Today, Chief Operating Officer Elie Mimoun said, “We really want to see how we can improve the experience. It’s going to be a nice experience and we hope the residents appreciate what we’re trying to do.”
ESJ Capital Partners to Improve the Experience
Previously known as Parrot Jungle, Jungle Island formally opened its $47 million attraction in the summer of 2003. Junge Island has exotic wildlife together with tropical gardens and educational exhibits and shows.
The Miami City Commission has approved a deal to transfer the lease to ESJ. This transfer also requires approval by Miami-Dade County and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. Attorney Alex Tachmes, representing ESJ, says the issue should come before county commissioners in January.
Elie Mimoun said, “We really want to see how we can improve the experience. First and foremost we’re going to improve the appearance of Jungle Island with new signage and a new opening experience. Changes are to include a new traffic pattern and improvements to the parking lot.
ESJ Capital Partners plans to add a zipline ride. The application for a building permit for the zipline is under consideration by city officials. “Once we get building permit approval we’ll break ground first thing out of the gate,” Mimoun said.
The company also plans to add splash pads and an obstacle course for younger children and revamp the Kids Club. In addition, it plans to work with Crystal Lagoons to build a bigger water park for teens and adults or a swimming lagoon for water sports and leisure activities.
An Environmentally Friendly Attraction
Mimoun said ESJ Capital Partners wants to create an environmentally-friendly attraction. It will therefore strive for LEED certification and will look at water conservation methods and the use of solar power. Phase one should take about 18 to 24 months.
Tachmes said the aim is to increase attendance. “The whole idea is to drive more visitors to the park. The other objective it to make it much more interesting than now – a place where you can spend all day rather than just a few hours.”
Mimoun said the plan is to retain most of the animals. The new attraction will deliver a better and wider variety of experiences with the animals. it will also be an educational experience and “much more fun.”
The existing park just needs improving, said Mr Tachmes. “The bones are there. It just takes a company like ESJ to invest into it, turn it around and drive the revenue. The location is amazing – it just needs investment to make it peak.”
“Our vision is to take Jungle Island, which is semi-dormant, and raising it to everyone’s appreciation,” said Mimoun.