The Clearwater Marine Aquarium’s downtown presence is expanding.
At least that is what officials there hope.
City leaders are expected to confirm a rental agreement of the first floor of the Harborview Center for storage space for the Clearwater Marine Aquarium’s Winter’s Dolphin Tale Adventure exhibit at their work session meeting Monday.
The 5,314 square foot space on the ground floor includes the former Pickles Plus Too restaurant.
City manager Bill Horne approved the lease but it still is subject to confirmation and approval of the City Council as required by the City Charter.
Aquarium officials requested to lease the space to store supplies related to the Winter’s Dolphin Tale exhibit.
The 12-month lease is expected to start when improvements to the space are complete. The initial term of the lease ends Oct. 31. There is one, six month extension available. Rent is based on a rate of $4 a square foot.
The aquarium will pay $6,240 for the initial term while the space is brought up to code, then $21,256 monthly. will underwrite the improvements. Those costs, including creating a two-hour firewall, in the case of a conflagration is estimated at $2,000.
The space includes the former Pickles Plus Too deli. The in July, 2011. At the time, leaders expected to demolish the former Maas Brothers department store.
But before the wrecking ball could swing, aquarium officials asked to rent some of the space.
The aquarium is working on of a $12 million expanded facility including stadium-style seating overlooking a 1.4 million-gallon tank. The hope is the former department store building would serve as an extension of the attraction while money is raised to complete the new facility.
Already the downtown attraction operational costs are estimated at $16,650 including $900 for water and $15,750 for electricity. That is not including the rent the aquarium is paying for the 54,000 square foot, second floor space.
The aquarium is paying a minimum $5,753 in monthly rent to the city. To meet rent, the aquarium uses $1 from every ticket sale. Once the money is recouped, the rent will be adjusted to $1 month. The 12-month lease includes options for another year and a second option for six months, for a total of 30 months.
Officials said already through putting the attraction on pace to bring close to 300,000 people downtown. Aquarium officials .