Sunny Isles Beach targets own Seaquarium
By Scott E. Pacheco
Aiming for a big-time attraction, Sunny Isles Beach is moving ahead on a five-story, 100,000-square-foot aquatic center tied to the Miami Seaquarium, whose owner would fund construction.
"It's an outstanding project to have in our city, to be able to have that sort of national-type of attraction," said Mayor Norman S. Edelcup.
It's to rise across from St. Tropez, between Sunny Isles Boulevard East and West and bordering Collins Avenue.
Arthur Hertz, chairman and CEO of Wometco Enterprises Inc. and owner/operator of the Seaquarium on Virginia Key, and Eduardo Castiñeira, president and CEO of Axioma3Architects, showed city commissioners a site plan Jan. 28.
Mr. Edelcup anticipates a connection between the Seaquarium and aquatic center since Mr. Hertz "runs the Seaquarium," saying the Seaquarium's marketing reach makes that link attractive.
The Wometco Aquatic Center is to include a garage, restaurants, shops, two banquet halls and three-story aquarium where stingrays may be petted. The garage is to handle 140 to 150 cars and banquet halls are to accommodate 1,000, Jan. 28 meeting minutes show.
The public-private partnership would make the city landlord to Wometco, which would fund construction. Project cost was not discussed, Mr. Edelcup said, but he's "sure it's a significant number."
Mr. Hertz said the design presentation was "the first step, and now we will work on the financing portion, which will take some time," the minutes show.
The project is in design phase. A tentative timeframe puts completion in 2013.
The minutes say the aquarium meshes well with the city's comprehensive plan for that area as it is pedestrian-friendly, is an educational process, family-oriented, includes banquet halls and is unique in South Florida.