The circular, open-air cage will rotate 360 degrees to give riders views of Philadelphia, Camden, and their suburbs.
The tower, illuminated at night, won't be the tallest structure in Camden - that distinction will still belong to City Hall - but will reach as high as the Benjamin Franklin Bridge.
Tower Systems Ltd., the United Kingdom-based firm designing the tower, is using Camden as the prototype for future projects, Keppel said.
The aquarium has had eight million visitors since Herschend took over in 2005 and experienced a surge in attendance the last two years after dips in 2006 and 2007, Keppel said. It hopes to draw more attendance with the tower, which will sit directly south of the aquarium.
Admission for the tower, which will be open from March through December, will be available separately or with an aquarium pass. A ticket price has not been set.
For Camden, where parking lots sit in prime real estate spaces along the waterfront, the hope is that the tower also attracts more people to the RiverLink Ferry between Camden and Philadelphia and more development to the water's edge.
Mayor Dana L. Redd, who is running for reelection Tuesday, called the project a way to celebrate "two cities, one waterfront."
"It creates a sense of place and identity in our city of Camden, again making this a tourist destination," she said.
Keppel pointed to the recently enacted New Jersey Economic Opportunity Act, which increases incentives cities can offer to companies, as critical in bringing the project to the aquarium.
The act was sponsored by Sen. Donald Norcross and Assemblymen Gilbert "Whip" Wilson and Angel Fuentes, all of whom attended the news conference. The three Democrats, who represent Camden, are running for reelection Tuesday.
Keppel said groundbreaking would likely be in the spring.