Clearwater Marine Aquarium’s (CMA) Board of Directors and management team have elected to enhance and expand the existing Island Estates facility instead of relocating downtown. The decision came after several months of dialogue, analysis, stakeholder input and weighing the available options.
“While the downtown location offered many benefits, many issues had to align in a timely manner for the project to succeed. This decision provides a quicker path to achieve our goals in support of our mission. We are very grateful to the community for its support as our organization explored all options,” said Board Chairman John Draheim.
In August 2014, CMA announced a $68 million plan to relocate to downtown Clearwater to expand its educational outreach and care of rescued animals. As aquarium leaders examined the downtown opportunity, redesign of the existing facility remained an alternate option.
“This decision will allow us to expeditiously address our need for an updated infrastructure, new habitats and expanded care for the marine life we rescue,” said CEO David Yates.
The plan to expand the current location will also address the growing number of guests and will include renovation, new construction and a comprehensive parking plan that will allow for lesser impact of vehicle traffic on Island Estates. Clearwater Marine Aquarium will unveil a master plan for public comment at a future date.
About Clearwater Marine Aquarium:
Clearwater Marine Aquarium (CMA) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit working marine rescue center dedicated to preserving our marine life and environment while inspiring the human spirit through leadership in education, research, rescue, rehabilitation and release. CMA is home to rescue dolphins, sea turtles, river otters, stingrays, nurse sharks and more. Winter, the dolphin’s story of survival after injury that caused her to lose her tail, has impacted millions of people around the world. A major motion picture, Dolphin Tale, highlighted her life story in 2011. The sequel, Dolphin Tale 2, was released in September 2014 and features the incredible story of Hope, a young resident dolphin of CMA. The mission and potential to change people’s lives differentiates Clearwater Marine Aquarium from any other aquarium in the world.