In the conceptual master plan, the historic house-turned-restaurant would have several outdoor dining areas, all focused on a lake feature with a large existing ficus tree at its center. The garage would become a courtyard café/bar, and a kitchen facility would be built directly behind the house, which sits at the northeast corner of the site.
The gardens would also include an event facility and an event lawn overlooking the lake, a tea house situated on an upper terrace lake, and a stream with a foot bridge that connects to the larger lake. At the northwest corner of the site would be a children’s garden with a playground, a classroom facility where children can learn about plants, and adjacent restrooms for visitors to the park. At the southeast corner of the site would be a maintenance building. Public art would be incorporated throughout the gardens.
Mad Room Hospitality would like to eliminate the tea house at the southwest corner of the site, and put the children’s facilities and adjacent restrooms there instead. At the northwest corner of the site, a second open-air event lawn would go where the children’s facilities and restrooms were to be located. In addition, instead of building a separate kitchen annex, the event facility would be combined with a commercial kitchen to serve both the McNab House restaurant and on-site events, including weddings.
Green said that having the tea house at one corner of the 3-acre property, and the kitchen at the opposite corner, would not be feasible, and Mad Room Hospitality did not see the tea house as generating enough revenue to be a stand-alone spot.
He noted that putting the extra event lawn at the northwest corner of the site would get the children’s facilities away from Atlantic Boulevard; would allow multiple events to take place at the same time; and would enable Mad Room Hospitality to generate more income, which would benefit the city because it would increase the amount of rent they would pay.
The changes that Mad Room Hospitality hopes to make still need to be discussed in more detail with CRA staff, and there will also be public input, said Mulder.
The botanical gardens will be a public park with fencing around the perimeter. While the concept calls for a private operator of the restaurant, garage café and event space, the gardens will remain open to the public free of charge, seven days a week during business hours, and will be operated by another entity, such as a non-profit organization or conservancy, in cooperation with the master operator.