Brevard Zoo Port Canaveral aquarium gets $10m hotel tax

Brevard Zoo’s proposal to build a $70 million aquarium at Port Canaveral has received a financial commitment of $10 million from the tourist development council.

The Brevard County Tourist Development Council voted in favour of providing $10 million to the project. The money will use funds from the county’s 5% Tourist Development Tax on short-term rentals – including hotel rooms.

However the proposed aquarium, known as the Indian River Lagoon Conservation Campus & Aquarium, still needs to be approved by the Brevard County Commission.

There have been public calls for an aquarium in the area, following a consultation on a 30 year master plan for the Port Canaveral area.

“I’m all for it,” Jim Barfield, Brevard County Commissioner and Tourist Development Council member, told Florida Today. Barfield, who is the project sponsor, said: “it will be one of the biggest and best things this county will see in the last 20 years and the next 20 years.” He said educational components will be “great for the next generation.”

Analysis suggests that the aquarium could attract an average of 575,000 people a year. 32% of those would be from other states and 4% would be from other countries.

Aquarium at Port Canaveral “great for the next generation”

Brevard Zoo Director, Keith Winsten, hopes the aquarium will open by the end of 2022. He wants to build a 130,000-square-foot facility, with 60,000 square feet of it enclosed. The $70 million cost is an estimation. It would be made from $20 million public funding, $20 million private funding and also $30 million debt.

“I think it’s a wonderful project,” said Tourist Development Council member Tim Deratany. “I think it would be a tremendous project for the whole county and Central Florida.”

Brevard Zoo is set in 50 acres of land and is a zoo located near Melbourne, Florida. The zoo opened in 1994. A small group of local community leaders wanted to create a space where people could get closer to wildlife. It would also be a location to learn about conservation.

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