By Di Lewis, Utah Business -- A fresh generation of Utah kids will be inspired at the Living Planet Aquarium's new planned facility in Draper, said Brent Andersen, aquarium founder and CEO.
The 136,000-square-foot, $20 million building will expand the aquarium's offerings and be the final home of the aquarium, Andersen said. After 15 years, he said it's exciting to have the support needed and thanked everyone who donated, whether $1 or $1 million.
Aquarium officials and Draper city leaders broke ground on the new building on Wednesday. When completed, the aquarium’s new home will be at 12033 Lone Peak Parkway in Draper.
Bill Rappleye, Draper city councilman, said he was laughed at when he told the council he wanted Draper to be a tourism hub. “Today is a major milestone as we prepare to break ground and turn this dream into a reality... Having an additional half million guests in our city will truly lift the boats in our harbor.”
The work getting the aquarium to Draper was worth it, said Draper Mayor Darrell Smith. “We've spent hours and hours and days and weeks and years because we knew the value and importance of this project to Draper,” he said.
Smith brought his granddaughter to the ceremony, saying the new building will be a place for children. Before his remarks, Smith said his granddaughter told him, “This aquarium is gonna be much cooler than the other one.”
The most important part of the groundbreaking is not the building itself, but the education it will provide for children, said Ragula Bhaskar, chairman of the board for the aquarium and CEO of Fatpipe Networks. He said the new facility has been a long time coming and goes to show that just as it takes a village to raise a child, “it takes a whole state to raise an aquarium.”
The new facility is being renamed the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium after the Loveland Family Foundation, which made a large donation to the new building's fund.