P&Z board approves new 300-bed Rollins dorm
The proposal to increase an existing dormitory from 80 to 300 beds comes as the college is also seeking approvals for a faculty and staff apartment building
Dec. 7, 2023
By Beth Kassab
The Planning & Zoning Board this week green-lighted a new student housing project on the Rollins College campus, which would increase the existing Holt Hall from 80 to 300 beds.
The project at 1000 Holt Avenue next to the Tennis Center was unanimously approved by the board and plans for the up to 6-story and 139,000-square-foot building are expected to come before the City Commission in January.
Sam Stark, Rollins’ vice president for communications, said the new dorm along with a proposed faculty and staff housing complex on New England Avenue are the latest ways the college is offering more students the opportunity to live on campus and more faculty the chance to live nearby.
Rollins is not growing, he said, noting that the number of undergraduates will remain at about 2,200 along with about 230 faculty and 500 staff.
“We’re not in a growth spurt,” he said. “Our real value proposition is student engagement with faculty and staff so the idea is to be able to have those faculty and staff closer so they can attend clubs and games.”
Stark said the college knows anecdotally that professors are driving to campus from everywhere from Winter Garden to Winter Springs and beyond. The median home price in Winter Park, where many neighborhoods and the campus are nestled on expensive lakefront property, are consistently higher than much of the rest of the region.
Rollins already offers faculty the opportunity to rent a small number of college-owned townhomes near Mead Botanical Gardens, but is looking to expand that program with 48 units just west of Central Park between New England and Welbourne.
A small number of graduate student units exist there now.
Rollins already owns the five parcels of land and does not pay property taxes on the highest-valued parcel at 273 W. New England where grad student housing stands now. Stark said he expected that the college would continue to be exempt from property taxes, including on the other four parcels that are currently vacant, once the new project is built. Nonprofit educational institutions are exempt from certain taxes when land is used to advance their educational mission.
The faculty housing project, which is expected to be rented at about market rate, is expected to go before the Planning & Zoning Board in January and then will go before the City Commission.
Stark said the hope is that both projects will take more cars off the roads since more faculty and students will be able to walk or ride bikes to class.
He said concerns that the faculty units would eventually be rented to students and essentially become a dorm that hops Fairbanks Avenue from the main campus are unfounded.
“That’s not happening,” he said. “There is no interest, no desire … it would remain as staff and faculty housing exclusively.”