Selby Gardens has secured almost $22 million, half the money it needs for first phase of master plan

Jean Weidner Goldstein, Cornelia Matson and Pauline Wamsler named co-chairs of fundraising campaign

A rendering shows the Palm Promenade in the Selby Gardens master plan. Image courtesy Selby Gardens

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens has secured $21.8 million in gifts, more than half of the $42.5 million it needs to implement the first phase of its three-pronged, $92-million master site plan, the organization has announced.

The remainder of the fundraising campaign “will be led by Selby Gardens’ trustees, leadership donors and co-chairs Jean Weidner Goldstein, Cornelia Matson and Pauline Wamsler” (vice chair of the Gardens’ board), a news release says.

The implementation of the master plan has been anticipated to take 10 years, the release adds. Of the $92-million goal, the release notes, $72 million will be directed toward capital costs, with the balance to be directed toward endowment and operational needs.

“Selby Gardens is a special place for our community and its importance in the greater world of plant conservation cannot be overstated,” Sarasota resident Matson said in the release. “Continued support of this plan assures the Gardens will always exist as an oasis celebrating nature and contribute to the field of plant research.”

Selby Gardens, the release points out, is “the world’s only botanical garden dedicated to the study, display and conservation of epiphytic plants.”

A rendering shows the design of the Steinwachs Family Plant Research Center. Image courtesy Selby Gardens

“The three-phase master site plan will increase the botanical garden’s green space by 50%,” protect Selby Gardens’ scientific collections — “which are the best of its kind in the world,” the release says — from future sea level rise “and allow for expanded educational outreach,” the release explains. “Furthermore, upon completion of the master plan, Selby Gardens will have the only botanical garden complex in the world boasting a Net Positive energy rating — meaning the buildings will generate more energy than they consume,” the release adds. The Net Positive Energy rating is awarded by the Living Building Challenge, a green building certification program and sustainable design framework administered by the International Living Futures Institute, the release points out.

Leaders of the nonprofit anticipate that, upon completion of facilities envisioned in the master plan, the Gardens will welcome even more visitors than the 200,000 people who have been coming each year to the property in downtown Sarasota, the release says.

“Contingent upon fundraising, zoning and permitting, the Gardens aims to break ground on the first phase in late 2019,” the release notes. “The first phase of the master plan will create a new arrival experience for visitors with the Jean Goldstein Welcome Center, which will be adjacent to the Steinwachs Family Plant Research Center, a building that will house the Elaine Nicpon Marieb Herbarium and Laboratory and Nathalie McCulloch Research Library,” the release continues.

Another key element of the first phase will be the Sky Garden, “a multi-story building that will include parking, retail space and a destination restaurant,” the release adds. “The structure will be designed with extensive plantings that [will] showcase what Selby Gardens’ researchers study and protect,” the release points out. “The rooftop restaurant, to be certified as the world’s first Net Positive Restaurant, will be operated by another leadership donor, Michael’s on East,” the release says.

A significant percentage of the restaurant’s proceeds will benefit Selby Gardens, the release notes. The restaurant also will make use of an adjacent edible garden and a 20,000-square-foot solar panel array, which will provide more than the expected power needs for the entirety of phase one, the release adds.

A rendering shows the Jean Goldstein Welcome Center, as envisioned in the master plan. Image courtesy Selby Gardens

“A new greenhouse complex, a learning pavilion and improved, more intuitive, circuitous routes throughout the property round out the remaining phases of the plan,” the release continues. “Palm Avenue will be converted to a pedestrian-only thoroughfare, showcasing the historic Augusta Block it is known for, which visitors will be able to admire safely with the improved layout,” the release says.

“Our plans actively pursue the future in a sustainable manner,” Jennifer Rominiecki, Selby Gardens’ president and chief executive officer, said in the release. “The cutting-edge, innovative green building design along with the improvements to the green space and ‘living buildings’ will allow Selby Gardens to become a world-leader in energy efficiencies in public space while also being a garden for all to enjoy,” she added in the release.

“The master site plan has been guided by the international landscape architecture studio OLIN, buildings architecture firm Overland Partners” and civil engineers Kimley-Horn and Associates of Sarasota, the release notes. Willis Smith Construction of Sarasota recently was selected as the construction manager for the project, the release says.