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Wellfield Botanic Gardens planning big things for future growth

Elkhart’s Wellfield Botanic Gardens likely will look very different in a couple of years.

The nonprofit, which leases space from the city’s north Main Street wellfields, this week won a favorable recommendation for the project from the Elkhart Plan Commission.

The project will consist of four main parts:

  • Moving the existing visitor’s cottage to another area of the campus.
  • Building a new 12,000-square-foot visitor center. It will be much larger than the existing 400-square-foot visitor’s cottage.
  • The organization will construct a new, larger parking lot, increasing parking spaces from 21 to 84, Executive Director Eric Garton told the commission.
  • And plans call for building a 500-seat open-air pavilion for shows and concerts.

Garton said the improvements are estimated to cost $13.5 million, and the nonprofit has raised nearly $13 million so far. Wellfield Botanic Gardens could start preparation work at the end of this month, break ground in early July, and finish by December 2024 or Spring 2025.

The gardens received about 70,000 visits last year. Garton sees that, and the number of programs, increasing with the larger visitor center.

Parrott, a longtime public radio fan, comes to WVPE with about 25 years of journalism experience at newspapers in Indiana and Michigan, including 13 years at The South Bend Tribune. He and Kristi live in Granger and have two children currently attending Indiana University in Bloomington. In his free time he enjoys fixing up their home, following his favorite college and professional sports teams, and watching TV (yes that's an acceptable hobby).