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ST. LOUIS, MO, (SLFP.com), August 9, 2016 - Construction is planned to begin in fall 2016 on a 75,000-square-foot St. Louis Aquarium. The highly anticipated attraction, located in the former mall area within St. Louis Union Station, is expected to be completed in fall 2018.
In a release, Bob O'Loughlin, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Lodging Hospitality Management and owner of St. Louis Union Station, said: "The St. Louis Aquarium will anchor the development that will transform St. Louis Union Station and reposition it as a family attraction destination similar to Chicago's Navy Pier."
The $45 million attraction will feature one-of-a-kind exhibits and tanks with one million gallons of water housing thousands of aquatic species. A shark tank holding one of the largest collections of sharks in the Midwest will be a highlight of the new attraction. The exhibit will feature a Shark Bridge, a unique V-shaped rope bridge that will suspend visitors just inches above the 385,000-gallon shark-filled tank. For guests brave enough to walk across, the Shark Bridge will offer a thrilling vantage point above the sharks, stingrays and hundreds of fish.
The attraction will be open 365 days a year from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. One million visitors are expected annually.
The St. Louis Aquarium will be an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) which holds members to the highest standards in animal care and exhibition. The facility will employ an animal husbandry team of marine biologists and aquarists responsible for the long-term care of the animals in the exhibit as well as overseeing water chemistry, animal nutrition, veterinary care, education, staffing and safety.
The aquarium will be an exceptional educational experience for school groups and an entertainment destination for local and out-of-town visitors. An 8,500-square-foot private event space will feature the Shark Tank as a backdrop for weddings, social events and corporate parties.
Since the purchase in October 2012, Lodging Hospitality Management (LHM) has invested more than $40 million in the property. The project included renovating the historic Grand Hall, with its barrel-vaulted ceiling of unsurpassed gilt work, stained glass over the entrance, to include an award-winning 3-D projection mapping light show, new furnishings and a 65-foot-long bar.
The station's Midway was re-established as a convention and exhibit hall and the property's 539 hotel rooms were branded as the St. Louis Union Station Hotel - a DoubleTree by Hilton under LHM's ownership.
Recently, nine beautifully restored rail cars began leaving the National Historic Landmark train station for private, three-hour excursions around the St. Louis metro area's rails. Corporate outings and pre-planned rolling or stationary events are now available under the train shed, including receptions, smaller meetings and parties.
The existing mall area is set to be converted into 48 train-themed hotel rooms and 30,000 feet of private event space bringing the total number of hotel guest rooms to 587 and total event space to 137,000 square feet. Guests will receive a personalized train ticket for their room at check in. Inside the new train-themed rooms, high-end features include 50-inch TVs with sound bars for an in-room theater experience, hardwood floors and walk-in showers.
The St. Louis Wheel, a 200 foot tall observation-style Ferris wheel, will be installed near the Hard Rock Café and will be open year-round. The wheel will feature 42 fully enclosed gondolas, each seating up to eight adults. One VIP gondola will feature leather bucket seats, a stereo system, and a glass floor for a unique viewing experience.
The project will transform the property's existing indoor and outdoor retail and entertainment spaces with a new food-train park under the facility's massive train shed, added green spaces, light shows and a fountain and fire show at the lake as a focal point of the new outdoor experience.
Across from Union Station is Aloe Plaza and the magnificent Carl Milles' Fountain with elaborate bronze sculptural pieces representing the meeting of the rivers.
Union Station is located at 1820 Market Street, between 18th and 20th Streets. The historic building is north of I-64 and just four blocks west of Scottrade Center. The landmark is within walking distance of Busch Stadium and the Gateway Arch.
Saint Louis was established as a trading post on the west banks of the Mississippi River in 1764 by a French fur trapper named Pierre LaClede. Business was good from the beginning. Soon the village became the center of commerce with furs as the main source of exchange for goods.
Today, elements of Old Saint Louis remain as Laclede's Landing, a nine - block industrial area that once housed companies producing coffee, leather goods, mattresses, tobacco, whiskey, candy and machinery for the barges. The historic area is located north of the Gateway Arch. At night, horse drawn carriages and live music add to the downtown atmosphere. Nearby, sightseeing excursions and gaming boats offer additional choices for entertainment.
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