Amity Shedd/KMOX

Aquarium at Union Station on Track for October 2019 Opening

A year from now, construction on the St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station should be complete.

July 30, 2018 - 7:26 am

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - A year from now, construction on the St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station should be complete.

Bob O'Loughlin, of Lodging Hospitality Management, met in Union Station's Grand Hall to discuss the progress of the $45 million aquarium that will essentially take up most of the former mall space. The war room contains numerous maps, plans and renderings of coming attractions, including otters, stingrays, Mississippi River denizens and sharks.

The aquarium, to be run by Dubai-based Zoocenarium, will be very modern, but much of the design aesthetic takes you back in time.

 “We want to embrace some of the history and what Union Station meant to it, and then obviously to honor the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. And we’re bringing back the Fudge guys, so they’ll be in the lobby also,” O'Loughlin says.

Most of the noise and work comes from the area where the mall used to be, where right now the old mall area is completely gone, down to the cement, except for big holes where massive tanks will soon be.

“The tanks will come in, we’ll place the tank, we’ll do all of the finish work, and by June of July of next year, everything will be complete,” O'Loughlin says. "And then we put the fish in the tanks and they have three months to get acclimated, so our target date is October 1st for the opening of the aquarium."

It’s a huge undertaking and an expensive project - $45 million for the aquarium, alone. O'Loughlin says he’ll have $160 million invested in the property. LHM is asking the city for $100 million in industrial revenue bonds.

“We’re very confident, we think it will be a destination hotel and entertainment facility, much like many of the Gaylord hotels throughout the United States,” he says.

O'Loughlin says they have many conventions booked there already, and that conventions want to come to a place like Union Station where everything's all right there - aquarium, hotel, Ferris wheel, restaurants and other attractions. There will even be trains operating for special events.