CLEARWATER, Fla. - "I think it's an opportunity for the city to put a stamp on Clearwater the community," said Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos.
The Clearwater Marine Aquarium got a vote of approval from the citizens of Clearwater in Tuesday's election.
Clearwater Marine Aquarium CEO David Yates couldn't be happier with the election.
"For them to say yes, after five years of hard work, we're very, very happy right now, obviously," he said.
Although yesterday's vote to lease the current city hall land was a victory for aquarium supporters, actually building it there, moving city hall and all the things that go into that are a long way off.
"The aquarium has said that if it doesn't raise, and have committed the money that it needs to build the new facility by August of 2016, then nothing is going to happen," said Cretekos.
Now the responsibility to raise the nearly $160 million needed falls on the aquarium. And with Dolphin Tale 2, starring Winter, currently filming at the aquarium, officials believe they're up to the challenge.
"We have millions of people that watch us around the world right now. So rather than going after a lot of large donations, which we will do, we're also going to go after the million $25 donations. And we have that audience right now that other groups don't have," Yates said.
Two leading possibilities for a new city hall site are the old Times property at Court and Myrtle, and the vacant land that is next to the city's municipal services building and police station.
This location would give the city a true government campus.
It's too early to know what specific upgrades and modifications would have to made around the current city hall property to meet the needs of the the new aquarium.
"We're going to start working on that now.
Staff has already been looking at some changes that will need to be made to try to accommodate everything that will be happening," explained Cretekos.