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Adventure Aquarium to add 25-story observation tower ride to Camden waterfront

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Officials announce the Skyview Tower
Officials announce the Skyview Tower - (Andrew George / NJBIZ)

From just about any vantage point at Camden's Adventure Aquarium, the view of the Philadelphia skyline is unmatched.

But a plan announced today by the aquarium to build a 25-story observation tower ride on the waterfront aims to make it even better.

"It's a tremendous view," state Sen. Donald Norcross (D-Audubon) said today. "Imagine it 300 feet higher."

Slated to open in the spring of 2015, the Skyview Tower could potentially do just that.

The tower will run 10 months out of the year, carrying approximately 30 people at a time in an open-air gondola setting. Camden County freeholder Ed McDonnell estimated that the tower will attract between 150,000 to 175,000 visitors per year.

Though part of the aquarium, rides will also be available for purchase as a stand-alone attraction. Ticket prices have not yet been determined.

Kevin Keppel, executive director of aquarium parent company Herschend Family Entertainment, said the tower will create a "signature experience" for visitors to the Philadelphia area.

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"We absolutely are sure that it's going to be an incredibly popular attraction for people visiting the region and we are excited to bring it on-line," Keppel said.

With a $5 million budget, the tower will be completely privately funded, Keppel said. British startup Skyview will be building the attraction and work is expected to begin next year.

Keppel attributed the announcement of the tower plan, which officials said has been five years in the making, to "unprecedented enthusiasm and growth potential" in Camden as well as the recent passing of the Economic Opportunity Act, the state's new corporate incentives bill.

Norcross said particularly because of Camden's designation as an Urban Growth Zone under the legislation, the tower project is an example of private industries now taking a look at the city as a "good investment."

With his residence nearby, Norcross said he's previously boasted to his grandchildren about being near the aquarium. Now, he said, he gets to add to his arsenal.

"After today, poppy's going to have the Skyview in his backyard," Norcross joked.

Mayor Dana Redd was also on-hand this afternoon and noted that this type of project strengthens Camden's identity as a tourist destination and fits the bill of the "two cities, one waterfront" concept that she holds with Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter.

This article originally misidentified the freeholder mentioned in the fifth paragraph.

Andrew George

Andrew George

Andrew George covers the Statehouse from NJBIZ's Trenton bureau. Born and raised in N.J., Andrew has also spent time as a reporter in D.C., Texas and Pa. His email is andrewg@njbiz.com and he is @AndrGeorge on Twitter.

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