GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The Mississippi Aquarium project in downtown Gulfport is making progress. Construction of the first buildings could begin as early as October.
The Gulfport Redevelopment Commission voted Tuesday to advertise the bid package for construction of the main campus on the $93 million development.
"I think it's going to be a boom for everybody. Because it means more jobs, it means more entertainment, it means more people eating out, it means all kinds of things. It's wonderful," said Carol Lynn Meadows, who chairs the commission.
The family oriented tourist attraction will feature an array of marine life. Dolphins, of course. But the first attraction, in the changing exhibit gallery, will be penguins.
"And that provides us with four South African penguins and all the habitat that goes with it. So, I think that will be something fun," said David Kimmel, who's overseeing the development of the aquarium project.
Along with advertising for construction bids, the commission voted to hire an ADA consultant to make sure the aquarium campus is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
"I think it's very important for us to make certain that this facility is totally accessible and is above scrutiny on ADA," Kimmel told the commission.
While the new facility is expected to provide a welcome boost to the tourism industry in South Mississippi, supporters are also counting on the project as an economic development catalyst.
"We think it's just going to be a great ripple effect. We're already starting to see a lot of inquiries, a lot of interest. I had a developer today looking at some of the properties downtown," said Mayor Billy Hewes.
The Mississippi Aquarium is scheduled to open in the spring of 2019.