Jungle Island Receives Makeover Under New Owner
By: Ismael Rodriguez
ESJ Capital Partners, an Aventura-based asset management firm, acquired Jungle Island, the 18-acre Watson Island attraction in Miami, last week.
Bern Levine, the Parrot Jungle owner, sold the lease to the park for $60 million, allowing ESJ to begin its three-part renovation process while inheriting a $45 million park debt to the City of Miami, Miami-Dade County and the U.S. Department of Urban Development.
The redevelopment of the park, which is scheduled for completion in two years, will begin with zip-line rides showcasing downtown Miami, the park and Miami Beach, according to what Arnaud Sitbon, ESJ’s president and co-founder, told the press. Other additions include children’s rides, animal exhibits, a private beach club, water slides and a multi-acre Crystal Lagoon.
“We wanted to make the park more experiential in nature in an environment which is safe and fun,” John Dunlap, CEO of Iconic Attractions Group and president of Jungle Island, who will continue to operate the park despite the change in owners, told the press. “Miami has grown up as a city around this site.”
Jungle Island currently welcomes around 450,000 visitors a year, and Dunlap told the press that the goal is to increase that number by several hundred thousand visitors a year under the new management.