Harrison County

Bids are in to build the $93M Mississippi Aquarium. Here’s who wants the job.

A Coast Area Transit bus advertising the Mississippi Aquarium drives past the site in downtown Gulfport on Thursday. The city opened bids Thursday afternoon for the aquarium's construction.
A Coast Area Transit bus advertising the Mississippi Aquarium drives past the site in downtown Gulfport on Thursday. The city opened bids Thursday afternoon for the aquarium's construction. jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com

The city on Thursday unsealed bids from three companies to construct the main campus for the Mississippi Aquarium.

The low bidder was Roy Anderson Corp. of Gulfport with a bid of $52.1 million, followed by Thrash Commercial Contractors of Brandon at $57 million and Wharton-Smith Inc. at $59.7 million.

The low bid came in almost at the budgeted price for the main aquarium structures, which is $52 million.

The contract includes construction of aquarium buildings, interior and outdoor exhibits, and entry fountains that feature sails 65 feet tall.

The city will review the bids to select the lowest and “most responsible” bidder, said David Kimmel, who as aquarium director will help review the bids, along with project architect David Hardy of Eley Guild Hardy. The city expects to clear the project for construction by January.

Kimmel said the national firm Terracon, consulting engineers, has been selected to inspect the construction work. A contract and cost are still being finalized with Terracon, which the city selected through a professional proposal process.

Clax Italia in Rome, Italy, will be manufacturing the aquarium’s acrylic features, including exhibit walls and a tunnel designed to give the feel of being inside the main tank or exhibit. Kimmel said the cost of acrylics will be about $2.3 million.

A contract for exhibit theming is set to go out for bids in early 2018.

The time for construction to be completed has been moved from Spring 2019 to late 2019 or early 2020.

“We’re giving the contractors now a full 24 months for completion,” Kimmel said. “We were listening to the bid market and some of them had some concerns about the time line, so we gave them more time.”

Anita Lee: 228-896-2331, @calee99

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