When the Planet Aqua group announced in September of last year that they would open an aquarium in Shreveport many observers had substantial questions on its likelihood of success.
Initially, this was to be the first aquarium to be constructed and operated by this group.
Secondly, the business was to be operated as a ‘for profit” organization. Thus there would be no tax deductions for contributions made to the aquarium.
Thirdly, the economics of ticket sales versus operating costs appeared to be shaky at best.
And as time went along, the promised opening date of September 1, 2017 kept being pushed back for various reasons that seemingly did not “hold water.”
The aquarium officially opened to the public on November 1 of this year. Reportedly attendance has been high which was expected since it was the new kid on the block for child friendly entertainment.
As expected the local media has showered the aquarium with substantial free publicity. And all the usual suspects have showered warm “fuzzies” on this new attraction, including BRF’s Entrepreneurial Acceleration Program that has the aquarium on its wall of fame.
But tell all that to the five local companies that have not been paid for the construction work building the aquarium. Liens have been filed totally $238 thousand dollars plus--$238,880.60 to be exact.
Those who have not been paid are: Rimmer Electric, Inc.($91,232.91); The Payne Company($67,213.50); PPT, Inc.($10,233.00); Mid South Fire Solutions, LLC($11,717.59); and The Blocker Co., Inc.($58,483.60).
The aquarium group has not responded to an email inquiring about the liens. The Louisiana Secretary of State website reflects that Shreveport Aquarium LLC, which operates the aquarium, is not in good standing for failure to file an annual report.
How much money is owed to others for construction of the aquarium is unknown. And how much longer the lien holders will wait until taking legal action to collect is also unknown.
What is known is that the City of Shreveport gave the aquarium a lease of the former Barnwell Center for $1 a year. And then expended $1.5 million of dedicated bond funds for asbestos removal, etc from the building that was a direct cost savings to the aquarium group.
How much vetting the City did of the aquarium group before cutting the highly publicized deal is unknown.
If one wants to take a stroll through the area’s newest tourist attraction, don’t wait too long.
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