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Sarasota Monday, Apr. 4, 2022 3 months ago

First-phase construction of Selby update goes vertical

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Centerpiece of master plan's $51.6 million initial stage includes new parking garage, solar array and other improvements.
by: Eric Garwood Managing Editor

Selby Botanical Gardens last week launched in-earnest construction of the downtown site’s first phase of redevelopment.

Vertical work is now underway at the site bounded by Palm Avenue, Orange Avenue and Mound Street on the Living Energy Access Facility, a new building designed to serve several functions including parking, a gift and plant shop, and a new restaurant. The building will be topped with a 50,000-square-foot solar array, according to a release from Selby Gardens last week.

Additionally, a new visitor welcome center is planned in the $51.6 million first phase, along with a new plant research center, featuring a research library and a herbarium, along with new garden features, the restoration of a pedestrian mall along Palm Avenue and a multiuse recreational trail spur that will link with the city’s network of multimodal trails.

A rendering of what the LEAF building is designed to look like.

The LEAF building and other components are the first in a three-phase, $92 million master plan that will redevelop Marie Selby Gardens.

“This project is truly innovative and transformational — for Selby Gardens and for Sarasota — as our Downtown Sarasota campus becomes the first net-positive energy botanical garden complex in the world,” said President & CEO Jennifer O. Rominiecki in a prepared statement. “With the ribbon-cutting for phase one less than 17 months away, our donors will see the impact of their philanthropy in real time. We are so grateful to our loyal supporters and many other partners for making this important milestone possible.”

Selby Gardens said about $5 milllion remains to be raised of the initial $51.6 million for the first phase, which represents more than half of the overall project, Fundraising for that interim milestone is underway with a dollar-for-dollar match provided by several Selby Gardens donors.

Phase one is expected to be ready to open by summer 2023.

According to Selby Gardens, the second phase plans to build a hurricane-resilient greenhouse complex to house Selby Gardens’ world-renowned plant collection as well as a learning pavilion and new indoor and outdoor classroom space.

The third phase includes restoration of the campus’ two major historical buildings, improvement of all walking paths and renovations to seawalls and dock facilities.

The city approved plans for phase one of the Selby Gardens project in 2021, more than three years after the botanical garden first shared its vision for redeveloping its bayfront property. Rominiecki said the organization embarked on the master plan as a strategy for ensuring long-term sustainability as a research institution and community asset.

Donors, elected officials and community leaders assembled at Selby Gardens in June, 2021 for a first-phase groundbreaking.

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