Contractor selected for next phase of construction at Point Defiance

Neeser Construction Inc. of Des Moines, Wash., has been chosen for the next building phase of Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium.

The project includes a new visitor entry, new gift shop and an education building as well as expansion and renovation of the zoo’s café.

All were designed by McGranahan Architects of Tacoma and will replace aging facilities.

Metro Parks Tacoma commissioners unanimously approved the $3.89 million contract on Sept. 22.

Construction is set to begin in mid-October with anticipated completion in July 2004.

The existing visitor entrance, gift shop and World of Adaptations exhibit building will be demolished in late October to make way for the new structures.

The World of Adaptations building, which was erected in the 1960s, is the second oldest building on the zoo grounds.

The red barn structure housing administration offices is the oldest.

The street in front of the zoo already has been blocked off to provide pedestrian movement and entry without traffic worries.

Temporary ticket booths and gift shop are scheduled to start operating on Oct. 14.

In the meantime, the staff will move animals from the World of Adaptations building to their new homes and exercise yards behind the Wild Wonders Outdoor Theater once that project is finished in early October.

With the exception of the World of Adaptations, visitor access to all animal areas will remain open.

Food and beverage service will be available elsewhere on zoo grounds while the café is being remodeled.

The zoo will remain fully accessible from both the Pearl Street and Vassault Street entrances to Point Defiance Park.

Signs identifying traffic and path- way changes are posted at various locations throughout the park.

All of these and other construction projects, including the massive new Asia Forest Sanctuary exhibit scheduled to open next summer, are being paid for with proceeds from a $35 million bond issue approved by Tacoma voters in 1999.

All bond projects will be completed by mid-2005.

The zoo will have double reason to celebrate that year – it will be 100 years old.