Youll be able to see sharks and starfish, and seahorses and rays, at a new aquarium set to open in spring 2014 at Concord Mills mall.
The 30,000-square-foot, $10 million aquarium will be built in the space previously occupied by the NASCAR SpeedPark, which closed last month. Construction on the new attraction is expected to begin in July.
The new project will be part of Merlin Entertainments Sea Life brand, which has 50 locations across the globe, including five in the United States.
North America is a very important development market for Merlin, said Glenn Earlam, a managing director with Merlin. We are delighted to be able to move forward with this exciting project in North Carolina.
Plans call for SeaLife at Concord Mills to have 30 displays of marine life as well as an ocean tank with an underwater tunnel that visitors walk through. Officials said they plan to have an element in the aquarium to highlight marine life most associated with the Carolinas.
The aquarium will be smaller than others in the Carolinas and nearby states. For example, the N.C. Aquarium on Roanoke Island has about 68,000 square feet of exhibit space. The South Carolina Aquarium in Charleston is in a 93,000-square-foot facility.
The Sea Life project is being supported, in part, through economic development grants from Concord and Cabarrus County. The county incentives are worth up to $238,000 in tax rebates over four years, while the city grant is for up to $162,712 in rebates over six years.
Estimates show the aquarium could draw 350,000 people each year.
Admission prices for the Concord aquarium have not yet been announced. But tickets at the Tempe, Ariz., aquarium range from $13 to $18 at the door, with annual passes available for $45.