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ST. AUGUSTINE, FL-In a bold move to save one of Florida’s oldest commercial attractions, Atlanta owner James F. Jacoby plans to break ground this fall on an estimated $25 million, mixed-use venture that would stimulate attendance at the 65-year-old Marineland, 16 miles south of St. Augustine and about 150 miles north of Downtown Orlando.

Jacksonville, FL brokers tell GlobeSt.com the 40-acre Jacoby development site is on the west side of State Road A1A, adjacent to Marineland.

Besides the new commercial development, Jacoby plans start construction in September on a new dolphin lagoon complex where Marineland visitors would be allowed to feed the wildlife, pet the dolphins, scuba dive and snorkel in the five-acre, 450,000-gallon oceanarium structure that gained world-wide attention when it opened in 1938.

For Jacoby, a longtime Atlanta area developer, taking on the new challenge is just another task on his things-to-complete laundry list. He and the American International Group of New York are building the $2 billion, 138-acre, mixed-use Atlantic Station in Midtown Atlanta. In suburban Orlando, Jacoby and Michael B. Vlass, another Atlanta developer, plan to build the $150 million, one-million-sf Altamonte Town Center in Altamonte Springs, FL.

At the Marineland site, Jacoby’s planned project comprises 100 condominiums, 80 single-family residences and about 25 office/loft structures with offices above ground-floor homes. Carl Hampp, director of development at Marineland, and his wife, Joy Hampp, director of operations, couldn’t be reached at GlobeSt.com’s publication deadline to learn cost details.

But Orlando construction industry estimators tell GlobeSt.com the condos could come in at an individual hard cost of $100,000 or $10 million; the single-family homes at an estimated $80,000 each or about $6.5 million; and the office/loft project at about $8.5 million.

About 90 acres of a former campground site on the south side of the property will be converted to a preserve. That project is a joint venture of the town of Marineland, FL and Flagler County.

The new projects at Marineland come as another landmark Florida attraction, Cypress Gardens in Winter Haven, FL, goes on the selling block after closing abruptly April 13. Cypress Gardens’ annual attendance had fallen to 150,000 visitors from 1.4 million in 1987.

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