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Front Page » Top Stories » Ripleys Plans To Float Aquarium Proposal For Downtown Miami

Ripleys Plans To Float Aquarium Proposal For Downtown Miami

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Written by on July 25, 2002

By Paola Iuspa
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Ripley Entertainment Inc. officials hope to submit a design for an aquarium-based tourist attraction to the City of Miami by August.

Almost a year after losing a bid to build an aquarium on Watson Island as part of a larger development, the producers of the Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum, Ripley’s Aquarium in South Carolina and Tennessee, the Ripley’s 3-D Moving Theater and the Ripley’s Haunted Adventure want to build an aquarium attraction near downtown Miami.

Otto Boudet, senior adviser for economic development with the Miami Mayor’s office, said Ripley executives toured the Park West area north of the central business district recently searching for a site. In a July 11 letter, company officials said they would contact Miami officials next month when they expect to have a more concrete design for the aquarium, Mr. Boudet said.

"The letter was to let us know they are still interested in having a presence in Miami," Mr. Boudet said.

The Tennessee-based Ripley’s group met with Mayor Manny Diaz four months ago and looked at properties in Park West where the $255 million performing arts center is under construction but did not sign a contract to buy, he said.

"Back then they said they would get back to us when they had something more concrete," he said. His office did not hear from them until July 11.

The Ripley executives are not new to Miami. A year ago they formed a partnership with developer Michael Swerdlow, principal of the Swerdlow Group, to bid on a mixed-use commercial-retail-hotel project for the northern tip of Watson Island. Part of their proposal included a $50 million Ripley’s aquarium with more than 1.3 million gallons of saltwater marine life and underwater pathways. The Ripley’s Aquarium in Myrtle Beach, SC, is billed on its website as a $40 million, 87,000-square-foot oceanic experience and reported to be the most-visited attraction in the state.

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