Longwood Gardens plans $200-million expansion
Inside the conservatory at Longwood Gardens.
Julia Hatmaker | jhatmaker@pennlive.com HAR

Longwood Gardens plans $200-million expansion

Longwood receives 1.5 million visitors a year to its 1,100-acre property, and the project is the center's largest expansion to date.

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According to bond documents, Longwood Gardens Inc. is planning for an extensive expansion. Longwood managers said that previous expansions attracted more visitors, spurring further projects.

Per a story published on www.pennlive.com:

Longwood Gardens Inc., the late DuPont Co. chief Pierre S. du Pont’s intensively planted Chester County estate that has become a top Pennsylvania tourist attraction, is planning a major expansion, bond documents show.

As a first step, Longwood plans to sell $49 million of bonds to finance "design and engineering costs for future construction of a new conservatory" on the site of greenhouses next to its main building. "Morgan Stanley is marketing the bonds," which are expected to price and sell by the end of 2019, said Dennis Fisher, Longwood's chief financial officer.

This initial step would also include repairs and renovations to the Orchid, Banana and Nuttery buildings, relocating administrative offices, replacing oil tanks and adding a storage facility. Longwood, which receives more than 1.5 million visitors a year, is also studying ways to expand parking and access to its 1,100-acre property.

The planned bonds, to be issued like other large private projects in the area through the Chester County Industrial Development Authority, would not include funding for building the new conservatory. That would become the target of a second, larger borrowing: Moody's estimates "up to $150 million of potential additional new debt," which would bring total new financing, at near-record low interest rates, to more than twice the size of Longwood's last major initiative, the renovation, replacement and expansion of hundreds of fountains in the space between the main conservancy building and the Chimes Tower at the south end of the property.

The current conservatory, which covers four acres, is home to high-rise orchid, palm, lily, jungle, desert, fruit, rose and other themed spaces, and to seasonal and rotating collections.

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