Since its opening in 1988, the Denver Botanic Gardens Chatfield Farms has offered visitors a modest outpost where they could view native plants in lovely gardens. But the Gardens is soon to become a bit less modest. A major expansion is in the works.
The 700-acre site in southern Jefferson County will eventually see the addition of more infrastructure and even a butterfly house. The expansion will take place in phases, as the money is raised.
First, the infrastructure: The Gardens plans to build a new parking lot with 480 spaces; sewer systems; a “solar energy array” and other projects that will cost about $6 million. It’s “the really glamorous stuff,” joked Brian Vogt, CEO of the Denver Botanic Gardens in a recent Denver Post article.
Other items on the wish list: a 3,800 square-foot welcome center with a gift shop and staff offices; a preparation room for weddings and new restrooms; a 13,000 square-foot event space and offices, a 13,000 square-foot education center, and a 4,000 square-foot open-air classroom.
Also in the planning phase is a new restaurant with a large outdoor patio that will overlook the gardens and an existing amphitheater. The amphitheater will be improved, with a 3,400 square-foot permanent stage and green room for performers.
Finally, visitors will enjoy a new butterfly house, which will “host a special collection of invertebrates and highlight their relationships with plants and broader ecosystems,” according to the Gardens’ proposal.
Meanwhile, visitors will also enjoy the continuing delights of a spot that’s home to “elk, bobcats, coyotes, beavers and an occasional bear and moose,” notes the Denver Post, as well as a “meandering creek nourishing willows and wildlife.”