New push to bring aquarium to downtown Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — In the next two years, the city of Jacksonville could finally see plans to put an aquarium downtown come to life.

In an Action News Jax exclusive, the group behind the Atlantic Aquarium project said it hopes to break ground by 2021.

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Renderings show the aquarium right on the St. Johns River in downtown Jacksonville.

Scott Grant, the chairman of the Advancement Committee for the nonprofit Aqua Jax, said this roughly $200 million project is happening.

“It’s going to improve the property values of all the property around it,” Grant said. “When Chattanooga opened their aquarium, 150 new businesses opened in that area.  This will be the centerpiece of the downtown revitalization program.”


On Wednesday, Sky Action News Jax flew over the shipyards where the aquarium would go.

Grant said Aqua Jax is getting aggressive with its sales pitch.

He’ll be speaking before the exchange club in the next week then making more stops for more support.

He said they need funding for 3D renderings and drawings for what the inside would look like so they can sell this idea to investors.

“I intend that this thing is going to be built,” Grant said.  “I didn’t get involved to try.”

Action News Jax also spoke with leaders at the Jacksonville Zoo, who said this would be their sister facility.

They’d help design and run it and said it would be an extension of their organization.

The excitement for this is already building.

“I think it’s a great thing,” said Jimmy Rogers.  “It’s beautiful to see these big aquariums with these fish. I love it.”

Grant is hoping to have this open in the next five years or so.

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