Selby Gardens Unveils Master Site Plan

October 2, 2017

Concepts call for increased green space, state-of-the-art glass houses

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, the world’s only botanical garden dedicated to the study, display and conservation of epiphytic plants, is unveiling plans to increase the institution’s green space by 50 percent within its existing footprint and secure its scientific collection to protect it from future sea level rise.

Today the institution provided a conceptual master plan showcasing just how the garden can grow to become a better worldwide model for horticultural display, botanical studies and green building technology while also welcoming more visitors to the already more than 200,000 people that visit its property on Palm Avenue in downtown Sarasota each year.

“In its more than 40 years of existence, Selby Gardens’ full 15 acres weren’t ever adapted for the infrastructure a botanical garden requires. This plan considers the long-term needs to protect the world’s best scientifically-documented collection of orchids, and also to accommodate the dynamic growth we are experiencing,” said Jennifer O. Rominiecki, President and CEO of Selby Gardens.

Over the last two years Selby Gardens has seen a  36% increase in visitors, a 29% increase in membership households, and a 26% increase in overall annual revenues thanks to a new Living Museum operating model.

“While we’ve known Selby Gardens had to contend with its aging infrastructure for some time, Hurricane Irma validated the need to move ahead sooner rather than later with this plan,” Rominiecki said.


The plan for Selby Gardens has been guided by the international landscape architecture studio OLIN. The firm was contracted in late 2016 and worked with the Gardens’ board of trustees, an advisory committee and staff to reimagine the historical property of Marie Selby, a philanthropist who, along with her husband, William, helped shape the greater Sarasota area.

The Selbys’ original property was just over five acres. After the botanical garden was established in the early 1970s following Marie’s passing, the institution grew in small steps, purchasing property along Palm Avenue from nearby neighbors, including the historic Payne Mansion which is home to the Gardens’ Museum of Botany & the Arts.

The new plan calls for the removal of the buildings that are decaying and not historically significant. The Selby House, Payne Mansion and Carriage House and bayfront event space – Michael’s on the Bay at Selby Gardens – will remain. With the removal of failing former residential buildings that house operations and consolidating parking Selby Gardens will see at that expansion of garden and open space.

A five-story parking garden with rooftop restaurant will contain vehicle traffic to one area on the northwest corner of the property, away from nearby residential neighbors. The parking garden will have space for more than 450 cars and will be designed with extensive plantings to showcase the living plants the Garden studies. The structure will make use of the latest green building technology and include a solar panel array, rainwater harvesting systems and green roofs. A rooftop garden is also envisioned, which would supply the restaurant with some of its food products. A new welcome center, research and support facilities are also part of the first phase of Selby Gardens’ site plan.

“Once implemented, the state of the art green technology will make Selby Gardens an international model for urban design planning,” Rominiecki said.

A construction timeline has not been set pending fundraising efforts. The three-phase, 10-year project has a preliminary cost estimate of $67 million. The first phase calls for the most significant funding at approximately $35 million. Upcoming public meetings later this fall will solicit feedback from neighbors and plans may be adjusted throughout the planning process. Locally, Kimley-Horn is overseeing the project.

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

“This plan upholds our past and also ensures Selby Gardens’ future, which has significant scientific importance. It also allows us to expand on Marie’s original gift to the community of an oasis of green space in the middle of downtown Sarasota, but envisioned at the highest level,” Rominiecki said. “We are proud to be able to continue her legacy.”

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About Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is the only botanical garden in the world dedicated to the display and study of epiphytes – or plants like orchids, bromeliads, gesneriads and ferns and other tropical plants that grow upon other plants without harming them – with a focus on botany, horticulture and environmental education. Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, 900 S. Palm Ave., Sarasota, is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except Christmas. Regular admission is $20 and $10 children ages 4-17; members and children 3 and under enter free. Contact us at (941) 366-5731 or Get social with us on Facebook, Instagram and more by searching @selbygardens or visit for more information.

About OLIN
OLIN is dedicated to affecting positive change through landscape architecture, urban design and planning. From its studios in Philadelphia and Los Angeles, the firm practices in a range of scales, including ecological and regional systems, urban districts, campuses, civic parks, plazas, and intimate gardens. A diverse group of partners leads OLIN’s design staff in developing multi-functional, highly crafted, and environmentally sensitive design solutions, uniting natural processes with technical innovation to produce contemporary and beautiful places. For more information, visit


Tags: botanical garden, green space, historical preservation, master site plan, sarasota, sarasota florida, selby gardens