Georgia Aquarium to Receive $7.5M from Atlanta
Expansion 2020 is a project to add a shark habitat and redesigned entrance.
Invest Atlanta, the city’s development authority, voted 4-3 to grant $7.5 million from a special tax fund to benefit the expansion of Georgia Aquarium, a 501c3 not-for-profit organization. The tax is pulled from Westside TAD, a district in which tax money returns to the community to generate growth.
Georgia Aquarium, the largest in the U.S., will receive the money over a period of seven years. Expansion 2020 is a $108 million project to build a shark habitat and redesigned entry to the Georgia Aquarium.
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus and other funders took a chance by opening the aquarium on the west side.
IA said the fund generates between $4 million and $5 million per year. IA also said that the city would recoup the money in five years of aquarium-generated sales taxes.
Atlanta City Council member Natalyn Archibong, an IA board member, voted against the grant citing the lack of affordable housing as a priority. Fred Smith, lawyer and Emory professor, also expressed concern. Expansion 2020 promises 22 full time jobs and 20 part-time jobs.
Michael Leven, Georgia Aquarium CEO said, “We are very grateful for the support. The Georgia Aquarium will continue to reinvest in our facility and our employees to keep us number one, not only in Atlanta but in our country.”