December 8, 2023
ATS SW Dec 2019
ATS SW Dec 2019
ATS SW Dec 2019

Southwest Florida Roundup

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens $92-million expansion plan scrapped

Art Levy | 11/26/2019


Nipped in the Bud

An expansion plan that would have doubled Marie Selby Botanical Gardens’ green space and added a roof-top restaurant/ garden and parking garage to the waterfront attraction failed after city officials decided the project was out of scale with the surrounding residential neighborhood. Now Selby, internationally known for its extensive collection of orchids, bromeliads and gesneriads, as well as the research conducted by its team of botanists, will have to scrap its $92-million expansion plan that also included new research facilities, a new welcome center and infrastructure improvements designed to protect Selby’s scientific collections, stored near Sarasota Bay, from sea-level rise.

Jennifer O. Rominiecki, Selby’s president and CEO, says more than $33 million had already been raised to pay for the project’s $42.5-million first phase. She called the city’s decision “a severe disappointment” and said Selby’s board would evaluate its options but that “the status quo is no longer an option.”


  • Construction is underway on the Heights Foundation/Heights Center’s $11.8-million Heights Early Learning and Education Center in Fort Myers (left). The 36,000-sq.-ft. building will house the GLAD Kids Early Learning Center and the Harlem Heights Community Charter School.
  • RCC Pinellas, a non-profit that provides food to people in need, has teamed up with the University of South Florida St. Petersburg to open a campus food pantry for students who need food.
  • Saint Leo University in Pasco County has created an online bachelor of arts degree in emergency management.


  • Fort Lauderdale-based Green Point Research, which grows and processes industrial hemp, has purchased a nursery in Fort Meade. The company also has hemp-growing operations in California and Colorado.
  • A 3,567-acre central Pasco County ranch, once tabbed for environmental preservation, has been sold for $18.6 million to the Palmetto Ridge Cattle Co., which will raise cattle there.


  • A pair of three-story office buildings totaling 60,000 square feet is planned for a 22-acre site in the Pasco County community of Lutz.
  • The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce has changed its name to the Tampa Bay Chamber. The move has prompted concerns from economic development groups in St. Petersburg and Clearwater over possible confusion about the chamber’s identity and scope.
  • Sarasota-based Cruise Car will build 23 eight-passenger shuttle vehicles for University of Texas campuses in Edinburg and Brownsville, Texas.
  • VoltAir Consulting Engineers plans to spend $330,000 to expand its Tampa office and add 10 jobs to the 30 it already has locally.


  • Tampa’s Moffitt Cancer Center and Central Florida’s AdventHealth plan to establish a clinical research facility and chemotherapy/immunotherapy infusion program at AdventHealth in Celebration.


  • The Inn on Fifth & Club Level Suites in Naples has completed a $5-million renovation, including improvements to its roof-top pool courtyard and 119 rooms.


  • Roper Technologies, based in Lakewood Ranch, has sold one of its manufacturing units: Gatan, a maker of parts and software used in electron microscopes. The buyer, Ametek of Pennsylvania, paid $925 million. Gatan is based in California.


  • A Chicago developer, X Company, has proposed building a 29-story apartment tower in downtown Tampa. The 306-unit development will allow tenants to rent a bedroom and bathroom within a larger, shared living space.
  • Arthur Rutenberg Homes has changed its name to AR Homes.
  • The Strand, a four-story, 152-unit condominium, is under construction near downtown Sarasota.
  • 500 Harbor Island, a 235-unit apartment complex in Tampa, sold for $103.5 million. The seller is a joint venture between Forge Capital Partners and Intown/ Framework Group. The buyer is Northwestern Mutual.


  • The Grove at Wesley Chapel, a 471,279-sq.-ft. retail center, has been sold for $62.7 million by Barings, a real estate investment manager, to Mishorim-Gold Properties. The deal includes 203 acres along Wesley Grove Boulevard.


  • Bradenton’s Bishop Museum of Science and Nature has opened a new feature, Mosaic Backyard Universe, where children can engage in hands-on activities to learn about science.


  • The federal government is giving the St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport $19.75 million to upgrade its main runway. The overall cost will total $24.1 million, with the balance coming from the state and Pinellas County. Also, Lakeland Linder International Airport will get $10.3 million in federal grants to improve one of its runways.
  • Delta Air Lines plans to start daily non-stop flights from Tampa International Airport to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport starting next March.
  • The Punta Gorda Airport has opened its short-term parking lot to food trucks.


  • Hodges University has created Hodges Connect, a job-training program focusing on teaching “employer-demanded skills” to local job candidates.


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