The Gulfport city council has approved a $52 million bid to build the Mississippi Aquarium at the downtown site.
Gulfport’s city council has approved a $52,133,000 bid from the Roy Anderson Corporation. The council has further authorized the Gulfport Redevelopment Commission to accept the bid. The Commission now needs to confirm the contract with the construction team.
Gulfport mayor Billy Hewes, a keen advocate of the scheme, says he is keen to see the contract signed before the end of the year.
The Mississippi Aquarium is set to be built in downtown Gulfport with an investment of $93 million. Over half the funding has come from the state. The last $35 million will be financed by the city council which approved a bond to ensure the project has the funds it requires for completion.
The new aquarium is set to have a campus-style design, comprising four buildings with an outdoor exhibit as the anchor. It has been designed by St. Louis-based architects PGAV Destinations and emphasises the flow of water from rivers to the sea.
“It’s going to be a real focal point for the entire Gulf Coast,” said Hewes. “A lot of folks said, ‘Is it going to be real?’ Yes, it’s going to be real. It’s going to be huge and it will be transformational.”
Hewes expects the new aquarium to attract up to half a million visitors a year. Gulfport’s former aquarium was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.
Over the summer, crews worked to raise the elevation of the site, to form the foundations of the new aquarium.
Originally it was hoped that building work would start in spring this year and that the attraction would open in early 2019. However work has been put back by delays in the bids process. The building is now slated to open in late 2019 or early 2020.