Living Planet Aquarium moving to Draper

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 21 2012 6:22 p.m. MST

A young boy watches fish at the current home of The Living Planet Aquarium, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012, in Sandy, Utah. Draper has wooed away the aquarium from Sandy to a new location at 12047 S. Lone Peak Parkway.

Tom Smart, Deseret News

SANDY — The Living Planet Aquarium is planning a move to Draper after working out a public-private financing package it has been chasing since first putting fish in tanks at The Gateway in 2004.

The move will take the aquarium from space in a converted grocery store at 725 E. 10600 South, which the not-for-profit organization has always considered temporary, to 12047 S. Lone Peak Parkway.

For visitors, the biggest difference between a permanent location in Sandy versus one in Draper would be whether the aquarium was on the east side of I-15 or on the west. Parcels under consideration in both cities were in the same general area of the freeway corridor.

The move to Draper will be accomplished with $7 million raised by the aquarium organization and an $11.7 million bond from Draper the aquarium will repay over the next 20 years, said Living Planet marketing director Angie Hyde.

"We're moving pretty fast, hoping to break ground in April and open in late spring 2013," Hyde said. The current exhibit space will close in October, according to the plan, though its traveling educational program will continue during the transition.

Living Planet started with 10,000 square feet in The Gateway then moved into its 43,000-square-foot location in Sandy while trying to work a financing deal both with Salt Lake City and, later, Salt Lake County. The organization then walked away from its plans for a permanent downtown structure and started courting Sandy officials after moving to its current space there, where discussions in 2007 were for a project estimated to cost about $15 million.

"There were some numbers, some feasibility studies" with City Hall in Sandy, said Trina Duerksen, the city's communications manager. "We would have loved to have them locate here," she said. "But the numbers just didn't work out."

E-mail: sfidel@desnews.com

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