Aquarium at the Boardwalk: A Branson Project Feature
We are thrilled that the Branson-based infrastructure company Tom Boyce Excavating (TBE) has joined the Emery Sapp & Sons (ESS) family! Over the last 33 years, the crews at TBE have completed some pretty amazing projects — but none may be as unique as the Aquarium at the Boardwalk in Branson, Missouri.
This was a $34-million rehabilitation project that transformed the Grand Palace Theatre, originally built in 1992, into the modern marvel you see today. Long before the mirror-plated Octopus was draping its tentacles from the top of the building, the property sat vacant for more than ten years. The aquarium is now the anchor attraction for the 13-acre revitalization project along the Branson Boardwalk that is intended to drive future economic development along the coordinador.
The Aquarium at the Boardwalk project began in March of 2019 and opened two years later in March of 2021. TBE, now an ESS company, was awarded the site package for the project and served as the civil subcontractor. Our scope of work included demolition, earthwork, installation of water and sewer lines, storm drains, fire protection, and the excavation for all of the rooms that house plumbing. Crews also built an off-site building that houses all of the fish for the aquarium during their six-month acclamation period.
“The underground utilities were very elaborate because of all the salt and freshwater tanks,” explained Tom Boyce, Assistant Vice President. “This provided an exciting challenge for our team.”
The project site conditions definitely contributed to some tough challenges for the team. The site was extremely rocky and required a large volume of rock breaking to install the underground utilities. Additionally, the utility system was designed with diverse pipe sizes and had to be installed across various elevations within steep grade changes. While these types of hurdles often cause delays, the team dove right in and was determined to complete the project on schedule. With future economic development on the line, the aquarium’s fast-track schedule commanded a lot of coordination, communication, and robust resources, but the team delivered as promised.
Branson continues to re-shape its attractions and aims to draw families and younger demographics back to the beloved Branson Boardwalk. This aquarium — with its promise of “fish and fun” — will certainly do just that.
The next time you’re in Branson, be sure to pay a visit to the Aquarium on the Boardwalk! You will be able to see a variety of exotic sea life and check out our crews’ handywork. ESS is committed to continuing our investment within the Branson community and excited to see which Branson project we take on next!