Unlike a zoo, an aquarium is essentially a building, which makes it easier to fit into an existing urban landscape... especially if that landscape isn't being used for anything else at the moment. Their indoor nature makes them a year-round, weather-independent attraction, which can't be said for all zoos. This has led to a lot of interest in aquariums from various civic authorities for reasons other than conservation. The National Aquarium in Baltimore, the Newport Aquarium, and the Tennessee Aquarium have all been used as anchor attractions to revitalize waterfront areas. Now, Jacksonville, Florida intends to do the same.
The new aquarium looks incredibly ambitious. It will not only exhibit manatees, a Florida favorite, but it will also attempt to display bill-fish (swordfish, sailfish, marlin), something which has not been tried in the past. Being the only aquarium to display some of these species would be a tremendous accomplishment, certainly putting this aquarium on the map (though I'm not sure why these species haven't been exhibited before - has anyone tried?) Jacksonville already has a fine zoo, which has already indicated a willingness to work with the new aquarium (both facilities, for example, intend to get involved with manatee rehabilitation). Now, it looks like it's slated to have an incredible aquarium as well.
Oh, and St. Augustine (about an hour away) apparently is getting an aquarium too... I wonder if they're going to bother with an alligator exhibit, or if they figure someone else has that covered...
Rendering of the aquarium that a group is pushing to be built in downtown Jacksonville.