SeaQuest in Lynchburg now slated for opening by early fall

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LYNCHBURG, Va. (WDBJ7) -- UPDATE: According to the SeaQuest Facebook page, the attraction is now set to open in "late Summer to early Fall of 2019." The original goal was to be open by August.

ORIGINAL STORY: A new, multi-million dollar attraction is coming to Central Virginia.

SeaQuest is slated to open at the River Ridge Mall in Lynchburg this summer.

The mall opened nearly 40 years ago.

The bustling scene brought new found excitement to the Hill City, until big retail stores started to disappear in recent years. “A lot of the retailers, when they choose to close stores they choose those small markets to close stores,” explained Craig Pettitt, the Vice President of retail real-estate at Liberty University.

So, leaders at Liberty University decided to do something about it.

LU fully purchased the property about a year and a half ago. “We’re going to have everything from Sting-rays to sharks, retiles, mammals,” said Katie Farris, the marketing manager at River Ridge. SeaQuest is set to debut in Lynchburg in August. “It’s fun, it’s educational, and it really is just a great family entertainment opportunity for the Central Virginia region,” Farris added.

The interactive aquarium is a $5 million joint-investment between LU and SeaQuest.

Their goal is to hook visitors and make the once bustling mall a destination again. “I’m really excited, It’ll be something new and it’ll be fun,” said Lynchburg Resident, Makayla Jewell.

Lynchburg will be SeaQuests newest location with 22,000-square feet of sea life, birds and reptiles.

Construction is set to start in March.

Leaders say the aquarium should be open by August.

It’s slated to bring in 75 full and part-time jobs. “This just shows to our existing merchants that we’re serious and we’re going to do something,” said Pettitt.

“Bringing SeaQuest here is just the beginning, there’s more excitement to follow,” added Farris.

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