The Florida Aquarium
Despite the strong support of business and civic leaders, the City of Tampa was unable to secure funding for a local aquarium. The Aquarium was to become the first step in a large, mixed-use development for Tampa’s Channelside District. The subsequent phases included an 18,000-seat arena, hotels, condominium / housing, retail, theaters, and a cruise ship terminal.
KUD was hired to serve as the Development Manager and Completion Guarantor. KUD created a credit-enhancement instrument that was supported by Kajima’s substantial net worth. With this completion guaranty instrument, financial institutions were willing to underwrite a bond issue for construction financing. The project opened in 1995 and provides visitors with an unparalleled tour of Florida’s diverse aquatic environments.
Located on a picturesque 4.3-acre site at Tampa Port Authority’s Garrison Seaport Center, the aquarium is home to over 4,300 animals and plants representing 550 species native to Florida’s inland and ocean waterways. It is organized in a series of innovatively designed thematic galleries — Florida Wetlands, Florida Bays and Beaches, Florida Coral Reefs, and Florida Offshore — each of which includes a variety of exhibits highlighting specific habitats of that particular region. Altogether, the various display tanks hold over one million gallons of fresh and salt water.
THE AQUARIUM WAS THE FIRST STEP IN A LARGE, MIXED-USE DEVELOPMENT IN THE CHANNELSIDE DISTRICT
This total endeavor is one of the finest examples of what a public/private partnership can accomplish. The entire Tampa Bay area will benefit from this multi-faceted effort. Our relationship with KUD has been a great pleasure for all those involved. We can all look to the Florida Aquarium as a shining example of the cooperation required for such a grand accomplishment.