In a unanimous vote, the City Council decided to let residents decide in November if the city should lease the city hall property downtown to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
The aquarium wants to build a new $160 million facility on the site. It would be about 200,000 square feet.
In the November referendum, voters will be asked to vote yes or no on the aquarium's request for a 60-year, no-cost lease on the public property.
Aquarium officials also would seek $35 million to $60 million in government funding.
It would come from state agencies and county bed tax funds.
The aquarium says no money would come from the city's general budget.
Aquarium officials say the plan would bring 2 million visitors a year to downtown Clearwater to see Winter the Dolphin.
The dolphin has been a huge boon for the aquarium since the 2011 movie Dolphin Tale hit theaters.
The city council will meet again in September to approve the wording of the referendum.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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