ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- A former landfill site now deemed safe for construction could be the future location of a children's museum and aquarium.
The idea is still in the planning stages, but neighbors are already talking about it.
Rob Lucas lives in the Lincolnville neighborhood of St. Augustine and has heard about the proposed museum a few blocks from his home.
"I think it would be great for Lincolnville," Lucas said. "It would improve the property values down here. It would make this area much more attractive."
However, like many people in Lincolnville, Lucas wants to know more about the project.
Children's Museum Executive Director Kim MacEwan is working on the details.
"The Children's Museum has been looking for a home for two years," MacEwan said, "and we feel we've located the perfect property at Riberia Point."
Riberia Point is the southern tip of Riberia Street. It's empty land now, surrounded by the Intracoastal Waterway. One consultant suggests putting the museum there along with an aquarium, amphitheater, parking and shops.
The museum would be not-for-profit. Another business is interested in opening the aquarium.
MacEwan said the museum would be 40,000 square feet, indoors and outdoors.
"Right now, we're looking to purchase or lease two acres from the city," MacEwan said.
That's because the city owns the property.
Lincolnville was recently classified as blighted area. Some neighbors are concerned about extra traffic for generated by the museum.
"We're working on that," MacEwan explained. "We're working with economists to determine how much traffic there would be. We are anticipating the children's museum would have annual visits for about 75,000. So that would increase traffic on Riberia but there's also talk of collaborating with one of the trolley tour companies."
Lucas liked that idea. "That would help alleviate some of the traffic."
Lucas also wondered if the special tax money allocated for improvements in Lincolnville would have to help maintain the not-for-profit museum. But one city official says that special fund can only go to already designated improvement projects.
MacEwan said the museum planning is in the early stages, but wants to make sure it benefits children and the neighborhood.
She said the goal is to open in late 2014 or early 2015. It's a multi-million dollar project, and so far $1.5 million has been raised. A capital campaign will start this fall, MacEwan said. She added that visitors to the Gentlemen of the Road Tour helped raise money for the museum.
First Coast News