ENCINITAS — The San Diego Botanic Garden’s quest to build a $4 million pavilion received a boost from the County of San Diego, which recently announced its interest in pumping millions into the project.
In order to accomplish this, the county has started discussions with the botanic garden and city of Encinitas about potentially purchasing the city-owned land where the project is proposed.
Botanic Garden CEO Julian Duval and County Supervisor Dave Roberts, whose district includes Encinitas, made announcement at the July 9 City Council meeting, just as the city was set to discuss possibly selling the land to the Botanic Garden as part of a proposal to spur fundraising for the pavilion.
Roberts said the county is interested in donating up to $2 million into the pavilion, but can’t make the donation because the land where it is proposed is owned by the city, not the county.
“The County is very interested in partnering with the foundation and the other interested parties, including the school district, the Leichtag Foundation and the city,” Roberts said. “We think this is an important project for the community.”
The-state-of-the-art indoor pavilion would serve as the second phase of the garden’s wildly popular Hamilton Children’s Garden. The proposed 5,900-square-foot space would provide meeting and event space for up to 400 people, quadrupling the garden’s current meeting space.
It would also include multiple classrooms, a full kitchen for catering and cooking classes, an amphitheater and access to expanded parking.
Roberts outlined several possibilities that could help the county accomplish its desire to donate to the project:
• Purchase a portion or all of the city-owned property.
• Swap land with the city, or
• Purchase the land with credits toward the construction toward the pavilion.
He said the preferred option would be to purchase the land outright at full-market value.
Duval said he approached Roberts over the past few weeks after he approached the city with the idea of the botanic garden purchasing the city-owned land. The conversations quickly escalated when the city placed the item on the July 9 agenda, sooner than Duval expected.
The council voted to indefinitely shelve the proposal to allow the county, city and garden to negotiate an agreement.
If the county does donate the $2 million in neighborhood reinvestment funds to the botanic garden, combined with a matching grant from the Donald and Elizabeth Dickinson Foundation and the foundation’s ongoing fundraising efforts, the pavilion could be paid for before year’s end.
Duval said the result couldn’t have been better.
“We are really excited,” Duval said. “Having the county and the city and us all on the same page is the perfect scenario.”