Drs. Joel and Gail Morrison Morganroth donated $5 million to the organization.
With its largest single donation, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is nearly three-quarters of the way to its fundraising goal for the first phase of its 10-year master plan to remake the popular bayfront attraction.
At its 8th annual Chairman's Circle Dinner Jan. 28, Selby announced the $5 million donation from Drs. Joel and Gail Morrison Morganroth. The donation pushes the phase one fundraising total to $31.5 million.
The first phase of the project, for which Selby is seeking $42.5 million, includes a parking garage with a rooftop garden, a welcome center and a plant research center. The garden, which Selby has dubbed a Sky Garden, would be named for the Morganroths.
Ultimately, the plan includes three phases intended to be built over the course of a decade at a cost of about $92 million. Of the overall fundraising goal, $72 million would go toward construction, with the rest dedicated to operational needs and Selby’s endowment.
Joel Morganroth has been chief cardiac consultant of Eresearchtechnology Inc. since April 2006 and serves as its executive vice president. He and his wife, Gail Morganroth, donated $15 million to the Ringling College of Art and Design last year.
"We look for organizations in Sarasota that will have a major impact on the community. We think that life science area, the botanical gardens is an important resource. Selby has treasures for the world. That needs to be protected. Selby represents not just a destination to have fun, not just entertain, but it has a real purpose and importance," said Morganroth. "It's a demonstration of how to do things green. It's not our vision, but we caught onto it quickly, and hopefully, we'll help with the vision."
Morganroth also said he and his wife give substantial gifts because they hope to inspire others around them to give the same gift.
Jennifer Rominiecki, the CEO of Selby Gardens, said via a release, “We are incredibly honored to receive this generous gift from Joel and Gail. Their belief in our project and passion for the innovation of the master plan reaffirms our belief that this is a vital chance to transform and realize the full potential of our beloved gardens, while also preserving our important history for generations to come.”
The gardens announced it will break ground for construction on the project later this year.