Botanica plans an event center, Chinese garden

02/28/2013 10:47 AM

02/28/2013 10:48 AM

Botanica’s latest plans for expansion will see a new events center open this year followed by an adjacent Chinese garden planned for next year.

The addition of the events center, to the north of Botanica’s current building, plays to the growing popularity of Botanica as a venue for weddings and other events. It also will open up new space for Botanica’s offices, which have been housed in a creaky annex that was supposed to be temporary at the time Botanica opened in 1987.

The Chinese garden was at one time slated to go in next to the Downing Children’s Garden, in the meadow across from Botanica’s original acreage, but financial realities have caused it to be scaled back, Botanica director Marty Miller said. It is now expected to go next to the new events center, viewable from there and available to be rented along with the building.

To get ready for the events center, Botanica’s library has been packed up temporarily. The annex is being torn down, and the offices will be moved to the current library space. A new library will reopen in the events center, Miller said.

The design for the Chinese garden is still being developed. The main donor for the project wants Wichita’s Chinese community to be involved in it, Miller said. He also brought ideas for the garden back from China after going there last year with Wichita city officials on a business-development trip. Work on the garden will not start until the events center is close to being finished, he said.

In the meantime, Botanica is trying to preserve as many trees as possible in the construction area. Some have been moved to other city or Botanica property, Miller said. A huge hackberry is staying put, and the events center will be built leading right up to it, he said.

The events center is expected to take seven months to complete. Money for it is coming from the city of Wichita’s capital-improvement program for the expansion of Botanica.

Still on the drawing board and awaiting financing are plans for an education center in the children’s garden.

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