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Tracy Aviary renovation plans starting to take shape

The Tracy Aviary in Salt Lake City has three years and $19.6 million to make renovations and upgrades to the facility.

There's plenty to tackle, and project consultant Paul Svendsen says making the deadline will be a challenge.

"It will be a tough deadline," he said. "But it's a deadline we have to make."

Voters approved the money to revamp the aviary last November.

Problems to address at the facility in Liberty Park include an insufficient drainage system, aged and worn-out buildings, space limitations for the bird population and a well-hidden entrance.

"I think the people who ran the aviary in the past have been nice, well-intentioned people, but things just weren't getting done," Svendsen said.

One project would involve renovating the Wilson Pavilion for about $2 million. It's one of the most deteriorated buildings on site, and upgrading it would let people visit the aviary during the winter — a time of year when the facility hopes to build appeal for visitors.

The aviary, which was founded in 1938, also plans new indoor rainforest exhibits focusing on the birds and habitat of Mexico and Panama, Svendsen said. Salt Lake City banker Russell Lord Tracy founded the aviary when he donated his private bird collection to Salt Lake City.