How does a giant, 150,000-square-foot, world-class aquarium on the Northbank waterfront, formerly known as The Shipyards, in Downtown sound? AquaJax has partnered with the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, and they want you to come by and visit them at One Spark-–don’t miss this One Spark Creator project-–it could change Jacksonville for good!
First, go to and dream along with these visionaries.
AquaJax is an advocacy group with ideas to enhance the prosperity, growth, and revenues of Jacksonvillians. This is their first project, and they are dogged to make it happen. They envision docking space for a river taxi, air boats, replicas of steamships and paddle boats, even a maritime museum next door, all complementing the effort by The Adams Group, which is working to bring the USS Adams to an adjacent site, too.
“The AquaJax Aquarium is conceivable. Funding can be in place by the end of the year. The feasibility study and design can be completed by mid-2015, when construction can then begin. Opening is slated for 2016 or early 2017,” says George Harrell of AquaJax.
The height of the tourist season in Duval County is the spring, and AquaJax wants to increase hotel occupancy. This major attraction could pull visitors off of I-95, I-10 and I-75 over to Jacksonville. This big idea allows a visual connection to the Sports Complex and boat moorings, and people could walk to the Bay Street businesses and The Landing, which would also be revitalized. This project could potentially include a new convention center nearby, as well.
Post to Post Links II error: No link found for term slug "The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens" is partnering with the AquaJax advocacy group at this year’s One Spark Festival,” says Dan Maloney, Deputy Director of Conservation and Education at the Zoo. “We will be located at the rear of the first floor of the Downtown Jacksonville Library (across from Hemming Plaza, next to MOCA and on the corner of Laura and Monroe streets) and will feature a variety of displays supporting AquaJax’s goal to bring a world-class aquarium to downtown Jacksonville!”
Jacksonville can join the lead of cities around the country and redefine the waterfront by developing compelling attractions to increase tourism – Baltimore, Chattanooga, Corpus Christi, Dubuque made it happen – can Jacksonville?
Baltimore did it in 1980. Nearing bankruptcy, Baltimore visionaries transformed their decaying waterfront with the beautiful National Aquarium, and added three historic ships within walking distance anchored on the bay front. Today, it is the number-one tourist destination in Maryland. Subsequently, old warehouses and other spaces were renovated; new hotels and a convention center were built. The result involved more than a million visitors in the first year, and it’s gone up ever since.
Chattanooga did the same by building an aquarium on the river bank – then, later adding a Children’s Museum, new office complex, IMAX theatre, and many hotels – it is now the number four tourist destination in Tennessee. It even brought VW and Amazon to the city, where they built new plants. Another example is Corpus Christi, where an aquarium was built and the USS Lexington aircraft carrier anchored nearby on the waterfront with a supporting museum, which soon made the city the fourth most popular in the state. The city then built a new sports stadium, too. Then, Dubuque built an aquarium and enlarged the existing Mississippi River Museum on the river banks. The Delta Queen soon stopped for tourists. These cities prove that it is possible to make a BIG idea really happen with private and corporate investment fostering visionary projects.
Visit AquaJax at the Main Jacksonville Library downtown during One Spark – take a look, dream.

About Joanelle Mulrain