Marie Selby Botanical Gardens leaders hope a scaled-down garage and a relocated restaurant will convince city officials to approve a redevelopment proposal they previously rejected.
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens has filed a site plan with the city for the first phase of a campus redevelopment project, revising a proposal the City Commission rejected last year following vocal opposition from neighboring residents.
Selby Gardens is asking the city to approve a site plan, a zoning text amendment, a rezoning application, a street vacation and a utility easement vacation. A Selby Gardens master plan calls for a $92 million renovation effort to be implemented in three phases over 10 years at the bayfront property south of downtown.
In the Feb. 3 application, Selby Gardens said it has revised its plan to address resident concerns expressed at public hearings last year. Changes include reducing the size of the parking garage from 75 feet tall to a maximum of 40 feet, foregoing a requested comprehensive plan amendment, moving a rooftop restaurant to the ground level and limiting the restaurant’s hours of operation to when the gardens are open. The application also states Selby Gardens will conduct additional traffic analysis in the future to supplement the proposal.
The application reiterates Selby’s argument that redevelopment is necessary to allow the botanical garden to maximize the use of its 14.7-acre property and ensure long-term financial and operational stability. Other elements included in phase one are a welcome center and some research facilities.
“Public interest serves as the main rationale for this rezone,” the application states. “It is in the interest of the city, residents and visitors alike that the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens continue to operate as a world-class botanical garden within the city limits.”
Selby Gardens representatives outlined most of these details at a workshop last month. Although Selby Gardens leaders argued the revisions were meaningful concessions to resident input, many of those in attendance at the workshop remained concerned about the proposal. Recurring points of criticism included the prospect of increased traffic and the number of events held at the Selby Gardens site.
If city staff determines the site plan application is complete, the proposal will go to the city’s Development Review Committee on April 1. The application could go before the Planning Board in June and to the City Commission in July.