Virginia aquarium personnel proposing $200M renovation
The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center near the oceanfront is due for renovation. The plan is to renovate the 40-year-old main building by modernizing exhibit spaces and allowing for an African penguin’s exhibit. This exhibit will include a rocky shore with nesting boxes, a shallow swimming area and a deep pool for diving.
The sea turtle exhibit also will be expanded, and a new two-story lobby will be added to host weddings and other events. In the new design, visitors will enter the main building on the second floor, and the lobby will become a central meeting space surrounded by gallery spaces.
The expansion and upgrades to the main building would take place in four phases over the next 10 years at an estimated cost of $200 million. An alternative has been proposed to spend $100 million on renovations while moving the animals to other institutions and closing the aquarium for several years.
The design firm has asked City Council members to consider allocating $3.7 million in the upcoming budget for designing the first phase, which will include a parking garage across the street from the main building and a pedestrian bridge over General Booth Boulevard. The city owns and operates the aquarium buildings and collects revenue from admissions, memberships and the gift shops.