SARASOTA - A barge on the water at Nathan Benderson Park, drills down testing the soil to where the new Mote SEA Aquarium will be built. Mote officials came together Thursday afternoon to make a major announcement.
“Mote has selected the Willis Smith and  Whiting-Turner  partnership as our construction management team for the construction of Mote SEA," says Mote Marine President Dr. Michael Crosby.
Mote has already secured $34 million toward their $130-million campaign for the creation of this state-of-the-art facility.
“This new aquarium is going to be four, actually five stories tall. It’s going to have over 110,000 square feet in it, over a million gallons of water," says Dr. Crosby.
Crosby says choosing a construction company to build what is sure to be an iconic landmark was extremely challenging. Officials say the superstructure will benefit the economy in various ways.
“By moving the aquarium off of our city island campus, that gives us the space then to grow the research enterprise rather significantly," says Dr. Crosby.
Willis Smith President and CEO David Sessions says his firm is committed to keeping the project limited to workers on the Suncoast. 
“To truly make this a local project to hire as many local contractors as possible to be able to build this facility. If we have firms that have the expertise to do the work in this community, those firms should be doing the work," says Sessions.
Crosby says this is a significant step toward creating Mote SEA.

For more information on the project visit Mote.