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Former Pier aquarium has lease terminated at John’s Pass

Tribune staff
Published:   |   Updated: October 1, 2013 at 10:48 AM

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An aquarium that was once located inside the St. Petersburg Pier and had planned a $4 million facility in Madeira Beach has lost its lease at John’s Pass Village.

Secrets of the Sea Marine Exploration Center and Aquarium was notified by Aegon USA Realty Associates that its lease was being terminated after negotiations for a construction loan broke down, according to a press release.

Aegon had been working closely with Secrets of the Sea as a landlord and guarantor of the aquarium’s construction loan.

The aquarium was working to resolve some conditions of the proposed loan when Aegon pulled out as guarantor and terminated the aquarium’s lease, the release from the aquarium said.

Secrets of the Sea has invested more than $500,000 in the project to improve the 13,500 square-foot property at John’s Pass and was on track to open in November.

Plans were for 31 exhibits focused primarily on current marine research updated in real time. It was to feature live sharks, large fish, jelly fish and coral reefs.

The aquarium was projected by officials to attract about 250,000 visitors and 40,000 students annually, about double the old aquarium’s peak attendance, with 70 percent of them being tourists.

The aquarium’s board will evaluate options for the future, including finding a new location, according to the release.

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