SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - The Sarasota County Commission has given its final blessing to a scaled-down expansion plan for Marie Selby Botanical Gardens.
In a 4-1 vote Tuesday, commissioners approved the new $92 million master plan for the garden and research center, which will include a new visitors center, research facilities and restoration of the landmark Payne Mansion. The city’s planning advisory board recommended approval of the revised plan in September.
In a news release Wednesday, Jennifer Rominiecki, president and CEO of Selby Gardens, said she was pleased with the city’s decision. “We are thrilled to be able to stay in downtown Sarasota in a way that allows Selby Gardens to be environmentally and financially sustainable for generations to come,” he said. “These improvements will move our scientific and living collections out of harm’s way and into secure structures, using the latest green building technology. We are proud that this plan upholds our past and also ensures Selby Gardens’ future.”
The center plans to break ground on phase I of the project this spring, which includes a new welcome center, a state-of-the-art herbarium and laboratory, as well as a research library to house rare books and prints dating to the 1700s.
Also in phase I, construction will begin on a environmentally friendly parking garage with a gift shop and a garden-level restaurant – capped with a 50,000-square-foot solar array. A stormwater filtration system will treat runoff and return clean water to Sarasota Bay.
The project stalled last year when local residents objected to the scope of the original plan. Selby Gardens responded with the new proposal that was approved Tuesday.
Selby Gardens is composed of the 15-acre downtown Sarasota campus on Sarasota Bay and the 30-acre Historic Spanish Point campus in Osprey. The downtown campus is the only botanical garden in the world dedicated to the display and study of epiphytic orchids, bromeliads, gesneriads and ferns, and other tropical plants.