The Fort Worth community weighed in on improvements to the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens (FWBG) on Wednesday.
The public meeting on August 31 was the final of many forums on the subject, as the garden will receive a redesign and upgrades that will help represent Fort Worth for the next 20 years. The gardens entertained nearly 250,000 visitors in 2021.
The original plan was introduced by a team led by Andropogon Associates Ltd. of Philadelphia and Gideon Toal Architects of Fort Worth in 2010.
Community feedback from public meetings influenced significant changes to aspects of the garden, such as the University Drive entry, parking, a two-acre family garden, a restaurant, and a stage.
“We also learned that people want to be in outdoor spaces,” Fort Worth Botanic Garden CEO Patrick Newman told WFAA. “That was a big part of the plan as well,” he said, adding that he believes that trend will continue.
Bennett Partners, Terra Design Studios, and Studio Outside presented several renderings at the meeting that included upgrades like a culinary garden, a parking garage, and an education hub. What will not be touched is the beloved Japanese Garden.
“We heard specifically (from the public) about the Japanese Garden,” Newman said. “They love it. They want us to leave it. And we intend to do that. It really is a great space, celebrating its 50th anniversary next year, and we intend to celebrate it. And really leave it as it is.”
FWBG is one of the city’s treasures, and the reconstruction of it will not be cheap. Newman estimates the price tag for the renovation will be $265 million, shouldered by taxpayers and private donors.
“I think the timeline is something that’s also difficult for people: To get really inspired and excited about what they see, and then for us to say, ‘You know, that might be five, 10 years down the road,’ sometimes that’s a little difficult to swallow,” says Newman.
FWBG will submit the plan to the city council on November 28.