Botanic Garden gets $2.1 million for improvements


The San Diego Botanic Garden will be able to celebrate its past and prepare for its future thanks to a $2.1 million construction program approved this month by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.

The job includes remodeling two existing structures — the Larabee House and the Lawn House — and building two new ones: an administration building and maintenance facility.

The county’s Department of Parks and Recreation is hosting a public workshop on the improvement program at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 1 at Encinitas City Hall

The garden in Encinitas is home to a world-class collection of exotic and native plants and trees as well as a children’s garden. The County of San Diego owns the 28-acre site on Quail Gardens Drive and for decades has leased it to the nonprofit garden for $1 a year.

“In our increasingly urbanized environment, places like San Diego Botanic Garden are more important than ever,” County Supervisor Dave Roberts said in a news release. “I’m so pleased to have worked with stakeholders to identify needs on this county-owned property. My colleagues backed me with unanimous approval to fund the project.”

The 5-0 vote on Oct. 19 authorized the funding, directed the county’s staff to seek designers and builders and to send the project to bid. Design work is set to begin this fall and construction is expected to be finished in the spring of 2018.

Toward the northwest corner of the property, on a barren site of less than 1 acre that’s used for overflow parking, two new buildings are planned. One of them would be for offices and botanic research. The other would house maintenance equipment and materials.

The new space would allow for removing staff offices and equipment from the Larabee House and the Lawn House so those historic structures could be turned over to visitors.

The Larabee House, a popular location for weddings and other events, currently has the garden’s horticultural director using one of the bedrooms for his office and other staff members and volunteers operating out of makeshift space added to side of the house. That addition would be removed and workers would relocate so the entire Larabee House could be spruced up and turned over to the public.

The Lawn House, will become a library and interpretive center and be available for receptions and rentals for visitors, of which the Garden has 250,000 last year.

— Submitted press release