It will still be more than two months before shoppers get to see the new Scheels store at SouthPointe Pavilions, but Friday, some of the store's new residents got their first look.
The sporting goods company added more than 450 fish to its 16,000-gallon saltwater aquarium, which will be one of the attractions at the 220,000-square-foot store.
Jerry Ohrn, of Reef On, a Utah-based company that provides the fish for Scheels' aquariums, said there will be more than 100 species of fish in the tank, with some coming from as far away as the Middle East.
“Some of these fish have more stamps on their passports than most people do,” Ohrn said.
The fish, which included tangs, angelfish and clown fish, were flown in Friday from Los Angeles to Omaha.
Louie Sikich, store leader of the Lincoln Scheels, said the fish are introduced well ahead of when the store opens to ensure they adapt to the environment and to allow time for any fish that become ill or die to be removed. He said Reef On has provided fish for aquariums in six other Scheels stores.
More fish will be introduced in a few weeks, and Ohrn said the aquarium will have more than 600 by the time the store opens Sept. 27.
A local diver will enter the tank every other day to feed the fish and also to clean it.
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By the time the new store opens northeast of Scheels' existing 77,000-square-foot store, the company will have spent more than a year and a half building it.
In addition to the aquarium, which will greet shoppers when they enter, the store will have a 65-foot Ferris wheel, a bowling alley, shooting gallery, wildlife mountain and cafe.
The new Scheels store is part of a larger project at SouthPointe that includes a three-level parking garage with 1,000 stalls and nearly 22,000 square feet of new retail space.
The parking garage will be built on the site of the current Scheels store, and demolition will actually start before the new store opens.
Julie Lattimer, marketing director for SouthPointe Pavilions, said the existing Scheels store will be closed starting Sept. 10, about 2½ weeks before the new store opens.
After the existing store is torn down, the area will be surfaced to provide temporary parking until sometime in January, when construction of the garage is expected to begin, Lattimer said. The garage is expected to be completed before the end of 2019.
SouthPointe earlier this week filed a nearly $12.2 million building permit for the garage, which is forecast to cost about $20 million total. The city voted to implement a 1 percent occupation tax on most sales at the mall to pay for the garage.
Unlike the Scheels construction, which required part of a strip mall to the east of SouthPointe to be torn down and numerous tenants relocated, Lattimer said, there are no plans to relocate any tenants while the parking garage is under construction.
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