County OKs Botanic Garden projects

County OKs Botanic Garden projects
The San Diego Botanic Garden is receiving $2.1 million from San Diego County to go towards remodeling projects and the construction of an administration building and maintenance facility. File photo

ENCINITAS — The County Board of Supervisors recently gave a thumb’s up to a $2.1 million building campaign at the San Diego Botanic Garden.

The Encinitas-based garden’s plans include the remodeling of two of the garden’s most venerable structures — the Larabee House and the Lawn House — and the construction of an administration building and maintenance facility.

“In our increasingly urbanized environment, places like San Diego Botanic Garden are more important than ever,” said Supervisor Dave Roberts, who was pivotal in the awarding of the neighborhood reinvestment grant that makes the construction possible. “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 1940s-era Larabee House, named after the garden’s founders Ruth and Charles Larabee, has been largely used as office space, and the Lawn House has been used as a staging area for maintenance crews and a garage for maintenance vehicles.

The construction project calls for the restoration of the Larabee House and the conversion of the Lawn House from a maintenance storage area into a visitors center and library

And the creation of an administration and maintenance center, which is planned for an area used for overflow parking, will allow for those functions to be consolidated on the outskirts of the garden, thus opening more of the core space in the garden for the public’s enjoyment, Duval said.

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.

It comes as the Botanic Garden recently broke ground on the centerpiece of its revitalization efforts: the construction of a $4 million education pavilion, the Dickinson Family Education Conservatory.

That 9,300-square foot conservatory and its 400-person capacity will quadruple the garden’s current meeting and event space.

It would also include multiple classrooms, a full kitchen for catering and cooking classes, an amphitheater and access to expanded parking.

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