Rollins to Get Major Facelift

Residential Capacity Will Double

Rollins to Get Major Facelift

The Rollins campus is about to get some major upgrades. The college unveiled plans to double student dormitory space and provide around 600 additional parking spaces in a new garage at the site of the current surface lot on Fairbanks and Ollie Avenue.

The architectural style of the new buildings will be consistent with the current Rollins style, and the new buildings will be constructed to minimize the appearance of mass – but they are going to be a whole lot bigger.

“We Are Not Growing the College”

In a presentation to the Planning & Zoning (P&Z) Board, Rollins President Grant Cornwell stated that Rollins has no intention of becoming any larger than it is now. “We are not growing the college,” said Cornwell, “we are simply adding residential capacity.” Cornwell added that, in his view, Rollins is ‘where it should be’ and there is no intention to increase its size.

40 Percent of Students Live Off Campus

Cornwell explained that, at present, 40 percent of the student body must reside off campus because of the shortage of student housing. McKean Hall, the current 60-year-old dormitory, has 250 to 275 beds, providing space for only the freshman and sophomore classes.

Student Housing Capacity Will Double

Rollins plans to build 250,000 square feet of new dormitories with approximately 500 beds and rooms for three Resident Advisors in the area immediately surrounding McKean Hall. Students will continue to inhabit McKean Hall until the new dorms are completed. When the new dorms are finished, McKean Hall will be demolished and a large swimming pool and patio will be built in the center courtyard, surrounded by the new dorms. This will enable the college to bring the entire junior class back onto campus.

Goal is to Increase Quality of Student Learning Experience

“Our primary goal is to increase the quality of the student learning experience by bringing them back into campus life,” said Cornwell. “What students learn outside the classroom, living with their peers, going to lectures, athletic events, musical events – and just the very dynamic of campus life – is part of the value that we bring.”

Current Student Housing Out of Date

Secondly, while Rollins is well ranked among liberal arts colleges, it is in what Cornwell described as a fierce competitive market. The current residential housing stock is old and out of date and does not live up to the expectations of students and their parents. “So,” said Cornwell, “we are both serving our mission and competing in a market.”

‘This is One Way for Rollins to be a Better Neighbor’

“The third reason,” said Cornwell, “is also important to us. We think this is a way for Rollins to be better neighbors.” Drawing a chuckle from the audience, Cornwell acknowledged that while Rollins’ 18- to 23-year-old students are all wonderful, they are not always wonderful neighbors. We think we will be a better neighbor to Winter Park if more of our students are brought back into the flow of campus life, Cornwell said.

On Campus Parking Will Be Safer

Cornwell pointed out that the new parking garage will free up spaces in the Sun Trust garage and will reduce the need for students and faculty to cross Fairbanks Avenue on foot. On campus parking should also take a good many student vehicles off the streets of Winter Park.

Construction Project on a Fast Track

Rollins hopes to complete construction and have the new dorms ready for occupancy by the beginning of the 2020 Fall term.

P&Z approved the application unanimously. The project will move forward to the Commission at the second January meeting.

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    By: Anne Mooney

    Anne Mooney has assumed the editorship of the Winter Park Voice from founding editor Tom Childers.

    Mooney got her start in New York as a freelance line editor for book publishers, among them Simon & Schuster and the Clarkson Potter division of Crown Books. From New York, she and her husband and their year-old toddler moved to Washington, D.C., where the two ran a newswire service for Harper’s magazine. “We called it Network News,” said Mooney, “because it was a network of the Harper’s writers, whose work we edited into newspaper style and format and sold to papers in the top U.S. and Canadian markets. We were sort of like a tiny UPI.”

    The newswire ceased operation with the death of Mooney’s first husband, but Mooney continued to write and edit, doing freelance work for Williams Sonoma cookbooks and for local publications in D.C.

    In 2005, Mooney moved to Winter Park, where she worked as a personal chef and wrote a regular food column for a south Florida magazine. She took an active interest in Winter Park politics and was there when the Winter Park Voice was founded. She wrote occasional pieces for the Voice, including the Childers bio that this piece replaces.

    The Winter Park Voice is one of a large number of “hyper-local” publications that have sprung up across the U.S. in response to the decline of the major daily newspapers and the resulting deficit of local news coverage. The Voice’sbeat is Winter Park City Hall, and its purpose is to help the residents of our city better understand the political forces that shape our daily lives.

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5 replies
  1. Curious says:

    Since Rollins isn’t growing, I would like someone from Rollins to say exactly what they plan to do with the property they’ve acquired at Wellbourne and Virginia.

    I was told there was one little bungalow hold out, did they sell yet? This is a BIG lot right by Hannibal…so it’s not exactly next to campus…

    Now, the current library is conveniently right next to the new proposed garage. I’m just saying….since we have all been led to believe Rollins isn’t getting our library.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I think Rollins is a pretty good neighbor to the community and adds value. I would like to offer two suggestions for additional construction projects that I believe would make Winter Park taxpayers very happy.

    Close Chase avenue to make it exit only, right turn only onto eastbound Fairbanks. You would gain many many parallel parking spots behind the Chapel, Theater and Cornell. Westbound traffic flow on Fairbanks will no longer be impeded by people making dangerous and illegal left turns across double yellow lines onto Chase.

    Additionally, building a pedestrian bridge somewhere, either to replace that dangerous existing crosswalk or across from the new proposed garage would be a big help to backed up traffic on Fairbanks and much safer for students.

  3. Former library donor says:

    How appropriate that the architecture style of the new buildings will be consistent with the current Rollins style. Rollins builds functional and attractive buildings. Perhaps the City should have selected an architect for the “Canopy” who could have designed buildings that resembled something in Winter Park. The recent rendering of the project in the Winter Park Observer looked worse than previous renderings. Also, the design drawings have come back and they are over budget.

  4. P(h)ooling Us Again? says:

    That dog don’t hunt.

    Kids study in their rooms. If they build a swimming pool and deck in the courtyard of the student dormitory, who’s going to study?

    If the kids have views of their hormone elevated, scantily clad classmates out their windows all day long during their study time, who could possibly concentrate on their books or computer work?

    Even if they closed their drapes, what about the noise from the pool?

    My bet is the pool goes after a couple years and they build yet ANOTHER dormitory on it’s footprint, DOUBLING the size and number of beds of the proposed project.

    That’s a HUGE amount of real estate for a POOL.

    Think about it.

    McKean is a BIG dorm. And they’re turning the WHOLE plot into a POOL?

    Something makes no sense about that.

    Rollins already has a POOL – Olympic size – and only steps away from McKean.

    Remember, Rollins doesn’t think like you or I think.

    It’s all part of a LARGER plan for them.

    A much, MUCH, larger plan if you know what I mean.

    Don’t listen to what they SAY.

    Pay attention to what they DO.

    Connect the dots.

    Wait and see.

    One thing leads to another.

    But you already knew that because you read The Voice.


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