After we reported to you back in 2010 that the New York City Public Design Commission approved a new 57,000-square-foot structure at the New York Aquarium to house the “Ocean Wonders: Sharks!” exhibit, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced during a press conference at the facility, Surf Avenue at West 8th Street last Thursday that the project is nearer to fruition.
Coney Island City Councilman Domenic Recchia joined Mayor Bloomberg and Wildlife Conservation Society President and CEO Cristián Samper to unveil the design for the exhibit, which will feature 115 species of marine animals including sharks, rays, sea turtles, thousands of schooling fish and more. The exhibit will hold more than 500,000 gallons of water, including 40 sharks.
According to the website, MikeBloomberg.com:
“The Mayor and Wildlife Conservation Society also announced a major private gift of $7.5 million from Wildlife Conservation Society Trustee Barbara Hrbek Zucker and her husband, Don Zucker. The Wildlife Conservation Society, which runs the New York Aquarium, is raising $34.4 million in private funds, of which $11 million has already been raised. The City has committed $93.1 million in public funds to the project, which will transform the exhibit space to feature more than 100 different species of marine animals – including sharks – and bolster Coney Island as a premier tourist destination.”
The plans for the aquarium’s makeover include a spiral ramp connecting the facility to the boardwalk, built with a 1,000 feet of tiny aluminum squares that reflect light and move with the wind. The ramp will then go from the interior of the structure and lead out to new gathering spaces along the boardwalk.
In addition to Recchia, who in 2010 told The Brooklyn Eagle that, “It’s been a dream of mine to have a world-class shark exhibit at the New York Aquarium,” and Samper, the mayor was also joined by Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate D. Levin, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Staten Island Borough President James P. Molinaro, and Barbara and Don Zucker.
“From the start, the exciting expansion and renovation of the New York Aquarium has been a vital part of our efforts to revive Coney Island,” said Bloomberg. “The project is going to make the Aquarium much more visible and visually exciting to Coney Island’s thousands of visitors – from those strolling the Boardwalk to others visiting the Aquarium itself. I want to thank the Zuckers for their generous support and look forward the exhibit’s grand opening.”
“Usually, the cry of ‘shark!’ means fewer visitors to the waterfront, but here in Brooklyn, it’ll mean more!” said Markowitz. “I was thrilled to support the ‘Ocean Wonders: Shark!’ exhibit and other renovations at the New York Aquarium, all of which will make the Aquarium Coney Island’s very own ‘great white’ way.”
“New York City residents, including myself, have enjoyed many memorable moments at the New York Aquarium and I am certain that there will be many more in store after the establishment of the Shark Tank,” said Recchia.
The “Ocean Wonders: Sharks!” building at the New York Aquarium is one more addition to the city’s Coney Island Revitalization Plan. In total, the plan is expected to generate more than $14 billion in economic activity for New York City over 30 years.
The groundbreaking is scheduled for October 2012 and the grand opening is anticipated for 2015.