Could an aquarium replace the Jacksonville Landing?

AquaJax hopes to build aquarium in place of the Jacksonville Landing

By Elizabeth Campbell - Reporter, Roxy Tyler - Web producer

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Would you like to see a new state-of-the-art aquarium instead of the Jacksonville Landing?

A nonprofit group called AquaJax hopes a plan they have will become reality. The group had put together an artist rendering of what an aquarium would look like at the Shipyards. Now it's resurfacing as a possible plan for consideration by the city of Jacksonville. 

If approved, the new First Coast Aquarium would have 150,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space, along with a 4D experience and boat excursions on the St. Johns River. Even though right now, the idea is being floated around, there are no formal proposals yet as Jacksonville leaders move forward to reach a deal with the owner of the Landing.

While some people said the idea would be cruel to marine life and there's a petition going around on social media urging the city to keep the Landing, the proposal seems intriguing to many people.

"I think that’s a good idea. It will attract a lot of people," Michael Fallon said. 

Erika Sepega, with AquaJax, said it would be so much more than a pretty attraction.

"The education opportunities, the awareness opportunities for the environment, the green initiatives that could be possible partnering with the local universities. (We could) have the elementary schools that have marine focus providing laboratories and research opportunities," said Sepega.

AquaJax said its partner, Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, would operate the aquarium which the nonprofit group said is expected to attract 800 thousand to 1 million visitors a year.

Dozens of people said they would support the idea of an aquarium where the Jacksonville Landing is now, but hundreds have signed an online petition asking the city not to demolish the Landing.

Jacksonville City Council President Aaron Bowman said it's premature to comment on specific ideas.

The Downtown Investment Authority has also not commented on the aquarium idea. 

Interactive timeline of The Jacksonville Landing's 32-year history 

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