Detroit Zoo wants to build a new aquarium on the downtown Detroit riverfront with the aim of attracting 1 million visitors a year.
Discussions regarding the possibility have been ongoing for several months. Ron Kagan, director and CEO of Detroit Zoo, confirmed to the Detroit Free Press that he was exploring the possibility.
“I remain very hopeful that this will happen. [But] there are a million and one things that do need to work out for it to happen,” he said in an interview with the newspaper.
Estimates put the potential cost of the aquarium project at $150m and the site of the demolished Ford Auditorium, which is owned by the city, is being considered as a possible location.
The project is a preliminary stage and it is too early to share details or even a potential time frame for construction. Kagan did reveal that he envisions the aquarium will dwarf the Sea Life Michigan Aquarium, which is currently largest in the state. Aquariums of that size usually take three to five years to develop, Kagan said.
“One would assume that if we built a major aquarium, it would be much larger than something that you would find in a mall,” Kagan told the Free Press. “That would be an attraction that’s pulling over 1 million people a year or so … I don’t really think that they would be competing.”
Sea Life Michigan opened three years ago with 3,250sqm of interior space, including a 180-degree underwater tunnel.
Earlier this year, Detroit Zoo announced plans to build a $10m Great Lakes Nature Center in Macomb County featuring aquariums, animal habitats and displays on the ecology of the area. It is expected to welcome 50,000 to 200,000 visitors annually once it opens in 2019.
Image: c. Detroit Zoo.