Study aims to see if aquarium could thrive in GR or Muskegon

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids is launching an economic and feasibility study for a large-scale aquarium in West Michigan. 

Zoo officials are looking at a couple of locations. In metro Grand Rapids, they are investigating areas around Millennium Park. In Muskegon, they are looking along Lake Michigan. 

The study will take between nine and 12 months. It’s expected to be finished next year.

“What that’s going to do is evaluate the economic impact in both markets, the size and type of the aquarium and then we can look at what location the aquarium will be most successful,” John Ball Zoo CEO Peter D’Arienzo said. “(The economic impact is) only one small part. We also need to look at which community. I always say the best location for the aquarium is the location that gets most community support, not just financial support, where can the aquarium do the most good, where can it benefit community the most, economic impact, job growth.”

No matter where the aquarium may be built, D’Arienzo says there will be plenty for visitors to see. 

“It’s going to have salt water, fresh water, tell story of our amazing Great Lakes,” D’Arenzio said. “On salt water side: sharks, sting rays, living coral reef with all the colors those fish bring. Underwater tunnels you can walk through. It will be a large facility over a million gallons in size.”

Once the study is wrapped up, officials would then have to measure community and financial support. D’Arienzo said it would take around 10 years before the aquarium is built. 

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