Public finance law firm Bryant Miller Olive was pleased to act as bond counsel for financing through a $15.9 million Industrial Revenue Bond to help complete the Clearwater Marine Aquarium’s $66 million expansion project. The transaction closed in March of 2018.
The total project cost of $66 million includes a $26 million award from the Pinellas County Tourist Development Council’s Capital Projects Funding Program, as well as the $15.9 million Industrial Revenue Bond. The CMA has also received grant funding from both the State of Florida and the City of Clearwater for the project.
On track for completion by 2020, the expansion will allow the CMA to double the number of marine animals it helps with rehabilitation. The funding will also provide for more natural underwater rock formations, large viewing windows for both visitors and the animal care team, and an elevating floor to minimize stress on the animals during medical checkups.
“We were pleased to work with Pinellas County Economic Development to issue the Industrial Revenue Bond for the CMA expansion,” said Grace Dunlap, Managing Shareholder at Bryant Miller Olive. “The non-profit CMA plays an important role in bringing tourism and commerce to Pinellas County, making it a great project for the County, and a perfect fit for the tax-exempt bond market.”
Proof of the CMA’s role in local commerce, attendance has more than quadrupled since 2012 thanks to the Aquarium’s most famous resident, Winter the Dolphin. Starring in both the 2011 movie “Dolphin Tale” and a 2014 sequel, Winter is an Atlantic bottlenose dolphin who successfully recovered from losing her tail in a crab trap with the help of a prosthetic tail.
“Our mission has always been about rescue, rehabilitation and education, but it’s exciting to think of the impact we have on our community,” said David Yates, President and CEO of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. “As Clearwater Beach’s number one tourist attraction, we’re proud to call Pinellas County home and we’ll be even more proud to say that we’ve helped to add jobs and revenue to the local economy.”