THANK YOU! to Vice Mayor Ahearn-Koch, Commissioner Willie Shaw, and Commissioner Shelli Freeland Eddie for standing up for public safety, the environment, the City's residential neighborhoods, our shared system of laws, and last but not least, our Comprehensive Plan!

WE'RE STUMPED

About why Selby Gardens wants to clear cut 111 mature trees, including 5 grand oaks, to make way for an oversized parking structure & rooftop restaurant.

This is not environmental stewardship – it is habitat destruction for profit.

Gardens are about growing living things… not killing them!

The root issue is the NATURE of the GARDEN

Selby has proposed a Master Plan that transforms a serene green oasis into a commercial event center

  • It's about green plants, not greenbacks. For more than 40 years, Selby Gardens has been a treasured slice of nature on Sarasota Bay. The leadership wants to transform this bucolic landscape into a bustling commercial event center, with a "diversified revenue stream". The touted 50 percent increase in garden space actually includes roads, paving, and buildings not open to the public. Plant growth is a wonderful thing, but growing the physical plant at the scale being proposed is out of keeping with the garden and its location adjacent to residential neighborhoods, and is a direct affront to Marie Selby's intentions.
  • The "need" for garage that is the equivalent of 8-STORIES HIGH is a tall tale. The ONLY reason a garage that can accomodate more cars than the recently-built parking facility at St. Armands is being proposed by Selby Gardens is to elevate the 10,000 square foot bay view dining / banquet hall long-sought by a local restaurateur above the tops of the trees that will remain after Selby, a botantical garden, cuts down 111 mature trees, including 5 Grand Oaks. A two or three story garage in the existing parking lot footprint could solve Selby's parking needs without requiring rezoning, the addition of 1 acre of impervious surfaces, and the destruction of irreplaceable trees. Anything more than that is simply about selling out Marie Selby's gardens.
  • It creates a traffic nightmare. If Selby's rezoning request is approved, it will place an enormous traffic burden on the Bayfront and is a recipe for gridlock from Gulfstream Avenue to Orange Avenue. Palm Avenue will be permanently closed to the public. Traffic will be directed onto south Orange Avenue, a designated "neighborhood street" that already is over-burdened by traffic and at an intersection operating at Level Service “F” (the worst), according to the city of Sarasota’s Thoroughfare Plan.
  • Loving Selby Gardens doesn't mean embracing its Master Plan. Neighbors and garden fans who are opposed to this plan are NOT "anti" Selby Gardens; we are against having a massive, intensive, commercial use crammed onto too small a parcel driving hundreds of additional vehicles a day through long-established residential areas. We are asking Selby to scale back this ambitious plan to become a regional event venue and respect our historic neighborhoods.

Selby Garage - HEIGHT COMPARISON CHART

14 times average person height. 4 times as tall as a giraffe. More than 3 times higher than the landmark “Unconditional Surrender” statue that towers over Sarasota Bay. 25 feet higher than the few Grand Oaks that will remain if this behemoth is built.

Selby Master Plan - FAIRY TALES & FACTS

FACT: Selby Gardens currently has parking for 225 cars and two buses. They are proposing to more than double their current parking with a 486-car garage. They claim this is needed for daily attendance.
  • A 486-car garage does not make sense for a 15-acre garden unless major events are held daily.
  • A 486-car garage with 2 passengers each = 972 visitors x 365 days = 354,780 visitors/year.
  • This 71% increase can only be achieved by producing large events on a daily basis.
  • Selby’s current and projected parking needs can be met within the existing zoning and a combination of reservation systems/flexible parking solutions and rideshare.
  • According to the FDOT, “The volume projections for the development suggest the parking garage is significantly oversized.” (June 20, 2019)
FACTS:
  • The Master Plan is a $94 million project. Selby Gardens claims to have accommodated the neighbors “demands” by adding $1.5 million to the cost of the project to address their “concerns.”
  • If that money is allocated to noise mitigation, it is NOT an accommodation, but rather a city code requirement which should have been included in the Master Plan from the beginning.
  • The sound ‘mitigation’ system proposed by Selby Gardens is intended so that they can expand their outdoor offerings.
  • Noise mitigation systems can control amplified and speaker volume, but not noise generated by hundreds of partiers.
  • $1.5 million is less than 2% of the total cost of the project. Selby Gardens is using the ‘accommodation’ as an excuse to avoid the real issue — turning Selby Gardens into a heavily trafficked, intense commercial event center.
FACT: There is no reasonable way for the residents or the City to enforce this.
  • There can be an indefinite number of events that are one person less than ‘sold out.’
  • Who will be responsible for monitoring the number of ‘sold-out’ events and/or ‘almost sold-out’ events/year.
  • There is no mention of any restriction on how many ‘sold out’ events to which Michael Klauber, the proprietor, will be limited. Selby is playing games with ‘Selby’ events vs. ‘Michael Klauber’ events.
  • What will be the remedy for residents when Selby Gardens exceeds the number of ‘sold-out’ events?
FACT: Page 8 of Selby’s 5 Year (2016 – 2020) Strategic Plan states otherwise:

Selby 5 Year Strategic Plan (2016-2020) - Page 8

  • From SRQ Daily, July 22 2019 – “Already, the approach helped usher better financial security for the institution. Total earned revenue growth from 2015 to 2018 went up 59 percent thanks to growth in a number of arenas. Admissions revenue jumped 47 percent, memberships 60 percent and rental and catering commissions a whopping 162 percent.”
  • It is disingenuous for Selby Gardens management to claim that they do not intend to push the events and catering operations to the maximum, in their quest to become the “premier Bayfront entertainment location.” .
  • There is no mention of any restriction on how many ‘sold out’ events to which Michael Klauber, the proprietor, will be limited. Selby is playing games with ‘Selby’ events vs. ‘Michael Klauber’ events.
  • In addition to the “destination” roof top restaurant, Selby’s plans to turn the Gardens into an event center is their justification for the massive concrete garage.
FACT: Included in the “additional” Garden space are all new paved (non-permeable) surfaces, the brick pavers of Palm Avenue, and the interiors of greenhouses not accessible to the public.
  • To accommodate the garage, 111 canopy trees, including five grand oaks, will be removed. An additional 80 palms will be chopped down, and numerous other plants cleared in a one square acre footprint to make way for the concrete tower. This is not environmental stewardship – it is habitat destruction for profit.
  • It is ludicrous to include Palm Avenue in “50% more” Garden space calculation. Palm Avenue must remain open for emergency vehicle access.
  • Selby Gardens continues to use the ‘sleight of hand’ in describing more “garden space” vs. more “green space” (their original assertion.) They are removing greenery, not adding to it. This is ‘greenwashing’ at its worst.
FACT: :The entirety of Selby Gardens is within a flood zone and high hazard coastal location. Glass greenhouses, whether or not they are built to withstand Cat 5 hurricanes, do not make sense in a high hazard coastal zone.
  • To truly protect the Selby collection requires relocation to an interior site, not in a high hazard coastal zone. And, if the goal truly is to protect the collection, why not build the “hurricane-proof” greenhouses first?
  • During Hurricane Irma, Selby relocated it’s ‘priceless collection’ of preserved specimens and books, to an inland location.
  • Local residents offered to locate and help raise funds for Selby Gardens to move their priceless collection to a safer, inland location, away from the flood zone.
FACT: :$500,000 was received in 2018 from State of Florida. Selby applied for $2.5 million in 2018; that amount was reduced to $600,00 in 2019 and ultimately vetoed by the Governor.
  • Selby Gardens explored applying for Community Redevelopment Act (CRA) tax increment funds (TIF) funds but didn’t qualify as they are not in a blighted area as is required for CRA/TIF funds.
  • Selby applied for and received Sarasota County Tourist Development tax funds 2019.
  • Selby Gardens is a 501 C (3) non-for-profit organization. It does not pay ad valorem or sales taxes. The commercial “destination” restaurant that will be operated by Michael Klauber will be operating on tax exempt land, competing with local restaurants who have not enjoyed that advantage.

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Chair – Eileen Walsh Normile

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Board Member – David Morriss

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Mayor Liz Alpert

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Commissioner Hagen Brody

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