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$92 million project in Sarasota goes vertical

The first phase of the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens project will include a plant research center and herbarium.

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  • | 12:23 p.m. April 5, 2022
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Construction has begun on phase one of the Selby Gardens' master plan. (Photo courtesy of Marie Selby Botanical Gardens)
Construction has begun on phase one of the Selby Gardens' master plan. (Photo courtesy of Marie Selby Botanical Gardens)
  • Manatee-Sarasota
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The gardens are going vertical. 

Construction on the new Living Energy Access Facility at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens can now go sky-high after the organization received a permit. Once finished, the facility will house a garden-to-plate restaurant, expanded gift and plant shop, and on-site parking. Phase one of the $92 million project will cost $51.6 million to complete. The first phase will feature a plant research center, herbarium, new welcome center and research library. 

“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,” says Jennifer Rominiecki, president and CEO, in a 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.”

The environmental features of the project extend beyond the gardens. A 50,000-square-foot solar array on the roof is expected to generate nearly one megawatt of power. Additionally, an underground stormwater vault will collect stormwater runoff and treat it before returning it into Sarasota Bay. 

Selby Gardens has about $5 million more to raise for the phase one price tag. To do just that, the organization has set up a capping challenge to match donations until that goal is met. The organization also secured $31 million in financing earlier this year through a tax-free bond issue. The financing is providing the working capital needed for construction. 

The first phase is expected to be completed next summer when the project will move on to the next two phases. Phase two will include a hurricane-resilient greenhouse complex, learning pavilion, and indoor and outdoor classroom space. The following phase will restore two of the campus’s historic buildings, unify the gardens’ walking paths and bolster the property’s seawalls and dockage. 

Selby Gardens features 45 acres spread across its Downtown Sarasota and Historic Spanish Point campuses.


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