D'IBERVILLE, MS (WLOX) - The site where the Ocean Expo Aquarium was supposed to be built will be filled with two auto dealerships.
D'Iberville city manager Bobby Eleuterius said the deal was finalized January 27 with Robert Mandal Jr. of RAMCO Real Estate LLC.
In 2010, the city purchased the 6.5 acres and two smaller parcels at the I-10/I-110 corridor with the promise an aquarium would be built there. But that never happened. According to Dr. Moby Solangi, the new I-10 off ramps would have created noise problems that could pose a risk to the mammals.
Eleuterius said the city sold the property for $6.8 million which is more than the city's original purchase. In 2011, D'Iberville took on $4 million of debt in the form of a revenue bond that would be supported by ticket sales at the new aquarium. Since then, D'Iberville has paid more than $1.1 million in principal and interest payments.
Mandal plans to build two new automobile dealerships at the location. Those dealerships are expected to generate $600,000 per year in tax revenue and create 40 jobs.
Also part of the deal, Mandal sold his current auto dealership to D'Iberville for $2 million. Eleuterius said the city's public works facility will be housed there.
With this deal, city officials say they are breaking even on the transaction.