Onondaga County plans new aquarium for Syracuse’s Inner Harbor

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — A new aquarium is coming to Syracuse.

The $85 million dollar facility will be located in Syracuse’s Inner Harbor. The announcement was made Monday morning.

“We have this unique opportunity to transform our community, to make us and turn us into a true leisure-stay destination which will create jobs and support the industries who have quite frankly been hurt the hardest by the pandemic,” Onondaga County Ryan McMahon said.

McMahon says the county has been working with the Syracuse Parks Department and the Rosamond Gifford Zoo for months studying if an aquarium would work for Syracuse.

The aquarium would be a nearly 80,000 square foot building featuring 600,000 gallons of water for all sorts of aquatic life.

The project would also create hundreds of temporary construction jobs and permanent jobs to run and maintain the aquarium.

“One of the opportunities the community would really benefit from is some of the apprenticeship readiness programs that have been put in place to do some of the younger workforce development to reach out to some of the underserved communities, some of the youth graduating today that are interested in careers in constructions,” President of the Central-Northern New York Building & Construction Trades Council, Greg Lancette said.

The county expects the aquarium to attract nearly 500,000 visitors each year and draw nearly $50 million annually.

Rosamond Gifford Zoo Director Ted Fox said he is excited for the project and hopes to have collaboration between the aquarium and the zoo’s programming.

“Many of the popular aquariums and zoos bring in a lot of traveling exhibits and education and art exhibits so we’re planning on making this not just an aquarium but so much more,” Fox said.

With places like Destiny USA, the NYS Fairgrounds and the Amphitheater at Lakeview all in close proximity, government leaders are hoping this project propels Syracuse into a lakefront entertainment destination.

“So it really is a convergence of opportunities that is going to help us take our waterfront, our inner harbor and our community to the next level,” Mayor Ben Walsh said.

McMahon plans to propose $35 million for the project in his 2022 budget and use $50 million from this years surplus funds. If everything goes according to plan, they expect to break ground in late 2022.

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