Wellington Group Pushing Plan For Garden At K-Park

A group of Wellington residents want to breathe fresh life into the idea of a botanical garden on 66 acres of village-owned land known as K-Park, hoping to catch the ear of a reshuffled Wellington Village Council featuring two new faces after recent elections.

They aspire to compete for attention with high-powered development offers, including one from the Related Companies, led by Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, that the outgoing council instructed staff to pursue further.

Organizer Jim Mantrozos said the idea is to make a renewed appeal to village leaders not to proceed too fast with development on the parcel south of the Mall at Wellington Green, southwest of State Road 7 and Stribling Way.

“We don’t want you to sell it to make it concrete jungle,” Mantrozos said, describing the proposed pitch to the council at a roundtable meeting Tuesday, March 26 of about 20 people at the Wellington branch library. “We want to make it green. We’re the green application.”

What to do with K-Park has been a subject of debate for a long time, including village forums dating back nearly a decade. Participants March 26 urged steps such as forming a nonprofit group and coming up with what amounts to a business plan to compete with development offers.

“We need to move quickly on establishing an entity that will promote the botanical gardens,” said resident Sarah Palmer, who grew up near London’s Kew Gardens, after the meeting. “The nonprofit route is the right way to go. It would allow us to go for grants and raise funds. We need the people of Wellington to get involved and support this.”

One challenge involves how to pay for constructing and maintaining such a garden. Suggestions have involved partnerships with schools, agencies or ecological groups, capturing revenue from visits and tourism, and finding creative ways to make it happen.

There has even been talk of a performing arts center and restaurants near SR 7 with the botanical gardens behind them, though that’s still in the idea stage, Mantrozos said.

A different group proposed an arts center on a separate parcel on the other side of the mall, though council members raised concerns about the density of development in that plan with a heavy concentration of proposed apartments. Later, the council approved a settlement agreement for the $11 million sale of 10 acres known as Wellington Green Park behind the Hampton Inn to original mall developer Brefrank Inc., carrying development rights for 220 residential units.

The task at the top of the to-do list now is getting on the radar with a new blend of council members.

Councilman Michael Drahos, whose term ended with the latest election, said at a Feb. 13 meeting that conditions have changed over time with K-Park. He noted that the village is scheduled to acquire, under a recently approved equestrian development plan, a public park of 55 acres off Forest Hill Blvd., near the library.

But that same equestrian deal, which involved removing 96 acres from the village’s equestrian preserve to build a golf community in exchange for improved horse showgrounds, stirred grassroots concerns in Wellington, attendees at the March 26 gathering said.

“I think Wellington residents are more activist now than they’ve been,” resident Leslie Hingorani said after the botanical group’s meeting.

On Feb. 13, the council heard a presentation from Related for possibly 500 residential units and up to 120,000 square feet of retail space, along with trails and park areas. About half of the K-Park acres could host a K-12 private prep school, company officials said at the time.

Developers W&W VIII LLC, led by the Ward family, offered $54 million to buy K-Park last year. In a 3-2 vote, the council instructed village staff to prioritize the Related offer for now. Incoming Mayor Michael Napoleone, then vice mayor, registered one of the no votes, saying he preferred to keep his options open.


  1. What kind of a dumbass replaces 96 acres of Horse property and utility for human entertainment and enjoyment for a bunch of washed-up, low energy and pretty selfish individuals to try to be like Tiger Woods? Even though, they’ll never be Tiger Woods and always be washed up and old.

    This is hilarious, you are fools, and it shows how easily money sways you. Although my comments are subjective, I’m sure I am spot on.

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