Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Selby Gardens will debut new facilities in January

New features from Phase 1 of Marie Selby Botanical Gardens' master plan include an open-air welcome center, a parking structure and a plant research center.

  • By
  • | 5:00 a.m. November 10, 2023
The new Selby Gardens Welcome Center will include a ticketing pavilion, welcome gallery and welcome theater.
The new Selby Gardens Welcome Center will include a ticketing pavilion, welcome gallery and welcome theater.
Courtesy image
  • Sarasota
  • News
  • Share

As construction of the first phase of its three-phase downtown campus master plan nears the finish, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens will mark the completion of its new facilities with a public opening on Jan. 11, 2024. 

The project adds 188,030 square feet of new space and amenities to its campus on Sarasota Bay, which is uniquely dedicated to the display and study of epiphytic orchids, bromeliads, gesneriads, ferns and other tropical plants.

“The completion of Phase 1 aligns well with Selby Gardens’ 50th anniversary,” said Selby Gardens President and CEO Jennifer O. Rominiecki in a news release. “When we embarked on this journey, our priorities were to preserve our history, safeguard our scientific collections and sustain our future, all while enhancing our campus for visitors, diverse stakeholders and the scientific and educational communities we serve.” 

 Phase 1 features include:

  • The Morganroth Family Living Energy Access Facility, which houses a parking structure, garden-to-plate restaurant, new gift shop, vertical gardens and a nearly 50,000-square-foot solar array that will make Selby Gardens the first net-positive energy botanical garden complex in the world.
  • The Steinwachs Family Plant Research Center, which secures irreplaceable scientific resources in a hurricane-resilient structure and provides a window into once behind-the-scenes research. The facility contains the Elaine Nicpon Marieb Herbarium and Laboratory, which houses preserved collections of more than 125,000 dried and pressed plant specimens and molecular scientific work. It is also home to a research library with volumes dating to the 1700s, conference rooms, administrative offices and a rooftop garden and solar array. In addition, there is the spirit laboratory with more than 35,000 specimens preserved in fluid, the second largest collection of its kind in the world.
  • The open-air Jean Goldstein Welcome Center consisting of a ticketing pavilion, welcome gallery and welcome theater.

There is also a new stormwater management system to divert and clean millions of gallons of water each year before it is returned to Sarasota Bay; a publicly accessible multiuse recreational trail enabling multimodal transportation to the campus and the bayfront; and a number of new garden and water features with more open space including a Lily Pond Garden, Glades Garden and the restoration of historic Palm Avenue as a pedestrian-only promenade.

The new epicenter at Selby Botanical Gardens.
Courtesy image

Going above and beyond LEED certification, Selby Gardens is seeking “Petal” certification through The Living Building Challenge of the International Living Future Institute. A key component of that effort is the new restaurant, named The Green Orchid, which will be a net-positive energy restaurant entirely utilizing solar power. 

The restaurant will be operated by Michaels on East and will feature a rooftop edible garden that will provide fresh produce for the menu. The edible garden is being planned, planted and maintained by Operation EcoVets, a nonprofit organization that provides personal, educational, and professional growth opportunities for veterans.

Phase 1 of the Master Plan has been made possible by private contributions to a capital campaign that raised more than $57 million, $51.6 million directed to the first phase. The Phase 1 target was reached thanks to a Campaign Capping Challenge facilitated by a group of loyal Selby Gardens supporters and Willis Smith Construction to provide a triple-match for the last contributions needed. The Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation made the final gift of $100,000 to complete the challenge.

 “We want to thank the more than 3,500 contributors who have made this vital undertaking possible,” said Selby Gardens Board Chairman Joel Morganroth in the release. "More than 98% of the funding has come from private donations, making this project truly a gift to the city of Sarasota and beyond.”  

A timeline for the second and third phases of the master plan will be announced soon and will include:

  • A hurricane-resilient greenhouse complex to house Selby Gardens’ living collections;
  • A learning pavilion offering expanded capacity for school programs and enhanced indoor and outdoor classroom space for children and adults.
  • Restoration of the landmark Payne Mansion, which serves as the Museum of Botany & the Arts.
  • Unification of all walking paths throughout the campus.
  • Bolstering of sea walls surrounding the property and renovation of docks.


Latest News