The Broadway Cultural Corridor is coming together piece by piecemeal. The San Antonio Botanical Garden, set back in Mahncke Park, is the most recent project to go under construction. The DoSeum opened in early June, the Pearl’s Hotel Emma is set to open in October, and the Witte Museum is expanding.
The Botanical Garden held a groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday to kick off the start of its $16.7 million, 7.8-acre expansion project. The construction, slated to be completed in 18-24 months, will include a new entrance gate, welcome center, culinary garden, outdoor kitchen, and a family adventure garden.
Botanical Garden Executive Director Bob Brackman thanked all the donors and community members who have supported the project since its start.
“Today is a dream that’s been 20 years in the making, and some of you have been with us all of those 20 years. Leg in the dirt, sleep in the dream,” Brackman said. “We certainly have appreciated your patience assembling these properties and then putting together a beautiful, thoughtful plan to eventually fold into the overall footprint of the garden.”
The nonprofit San Antonio Botanical Garden Society has acquired eight acres along Funston Place over the past 20 years to add to the grounds, bringing the total to 38 acres.
Botanical Garden Society President Mary Ann Beach said the society has raised $15.3 million for the project, most of which came from private supporters, including the Ewing Halsell Foundation, the Brown Foundation, the Greehey Family Foundation, and the Mays Family Foundation.
“(The donations) are really a testament to the community of San Antonio and the commitment they’re making to this incredible asset that we have here in the city,” Beach said.
The City of San Antonio allocated $1.2 million from the 2012 bond for the project and Councilmember Alan E. Warrick II (D2) said he plans to reserve more money for the garden from the 2017 bond.
“I’m proud to have the leadership of our Mayor Ivy Taylor when she was a city council person to see this project through in the 2012 bond and I look forward to making additional improvements in the 2017 bond election,” he said.
Warrick said he’s “very lucky ” to have part of the Broadway Corridor in his district. The Botanical Garden expansion, he said, is a “great opportunity for us to grow our cultural footprint here in San Antonio.”
Christy Ten Eyck of Ten Eyck Landscape Architects, with offices in Austin and Phoenix, will lead the expansion and work with an architecture firm noted for its environmentally sensitive building designs, Weddle Gilmore Architects of Scottsdale. The firms will transform the eight acres of land that lies at the end of Funston Place into a destination for the entire family. While children tumble down hills and get lost in a maze, parents can sit in the shade of an outdoor pavilion or next to a circular watering hole.
Director of the City’s Parks and Recreation department (and acting Assistant City Manager) Xavier Urrutia emphasized the strong role the San Antonio Botanical Garden Society played in the formation of the project.
“The City plays a small role in this (expansion) and we are grateful to be able to play that role, but it’s really the Society that all the glory should go to,” he said.
The Botanical Garden Society was established in 1980 to support the Botanical Gardens.
H-E-B Public Affairs Manager Kim Harle attended the ceremony to speak on behalf of H-E-B and the company’s contribution to the Botanical Gardens.
“H-E-B proudly supports children’s education and health and wellness initiatives throughout the community, which is why we are pleased to fund the new Discovery Center,” she said.
The Discovery Center will house two classrooms that each seat 50 students, an exploration station that will teach students about local plants and the region’s water story, and outdoor teaching areas, including an amphitheater and a covered courtyard.
Mayor Ivy Taylor could not attend the groundbreaking ceremony because she is in Bonn, Germany, to support the UNESCO World Heritage nomination of the San Antonio Missions.
*Featured/top image: Mary Ann Beach, David Green, Xavier Urrutia, Bob Brackman and Alan Warrick II join a group of children for the groundbreaking ceremony. Photo by Joan Vinson.