CAMDEN, NJ-The 12-year-old New Jersey State Aquarium, a centerpiece of this city’s waterfront redevelopment, is closed. But not for long: It’s slated to re-open next May, some 86,000 sf larger and with all-new and expanded displays, according to Greg Charbeneau, executive director of the Adventure Aquarium, as the venue will now be called.

“We have actively worked for years on designing, developing and populating Adventure Aquarium,” Charbeneau says. The shuttering of the existing facility, with drew some eight million visitors in its 12-year history, is the next step in a process that began earlier this year when Steiner & Associates broke ground for construction of the 86,000-sf expansion.

The existing venue is getting a substantial makeover, according to David Wechsler, president of Steiner Entertainment, which will actually operate the state-owned facility under a contract with the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority. Altogether, the new facility will total some 200,000 sf when it re-opens.

The price tag for the expansion/renovation project was initially placed at some $33 million, but that number has jumped into the $40-million range under the latest plans. The funding for it is coming through a combination of loans and grants from the State of New Jersey, as well as from private sources, specifically Steiner & Associates.

“Momentum has been building for the waterfront here for more than a decade,” says Wechsler. Neighbors on this city’s waterfront, which is directly across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, include the Battleship New Jersey Museum, the Tweeter Center, an entertainment venue and a minor league baseball stadium for the Camden Riversharks.

The Columbus, OH-based Steiner specializes in urban redevelopment mixed-use projects with a heavy dose of entertainment along with specialty retail, restaurants and civic elements. Among other things, the company developed and operates the highly regarded Newport Aquarium in Newport, KY across the Ohio River from Cincinnati.


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