Rollins Halts Expansion Plans
Public Hearings on Alfond and Lawrence Center Projects Postponed
On August 29, Rollins College announced the cancellation of public hearings in September and October on the expansion of the Alfond Inn and the proposed construction on the Lawrence Center site at 200 E. New England Ave.
Phase II of the Alfond
The Alfond Inn expansion has been long in the works as Phase II of the original plan. It includes the addition of 70 hotel rooms, bringing the total to 182, and the addition of a spa and health club, 4,000 square feet of meeting space and just over 300 square feet of retail space. The expansion also called for an additional 153 parking spaces.
Relocation of Crummer Business School and Cornell Fine Arts Museum
Redevelopment of the Lawrence Center site, at New England and Lyman, was a three-phase project consisting of a new parking structure, a new facility for the Crummer Graduate School of Business and new space for the Cornell Fine Arts Museum.
In order to complete all three phases, the college was requesting a zoning change from Office (O-1) to Institutional (PQP or Public-Quasi-Public).
Public-Private Parking Arrangement with City
As part of Phase I of the project, Rollins was seeking a Conditional Use Permit to build a three-level parking garage to serve the business school and museum properties. The City of Winter Park was contemplating a public-private partnership to expand the garage to four or five stories. This would provide an additional 120-180 public parking spaces in the Central Business District (CBD) and would require a change in the height map from three to four or five stories.
In a letter from Rollins Vice-president of Business and Finance & Treasurer Ed Kania to City Manager Randy Knight, which was provided to the Voice by the City Communications Director Clarissa Howard, Kania described the three-part expansion – the Alfond, the Crummer Graduate School of Business and the Cornell Fine Arts Museum – as the “Innovation Triangle.”
Kania formally withdrew Rollins’ request for public hearings regarding the Innovation Triangle that had been scheduled in September and October. “We would like to withdraw these requests,” he wrote, “in order that we may investigate other potential parking locations to better meet the needs of the College and the residents of Winter Park.”
Projects on Temporary Hold
“With so many exciting and mission-critical projects taking shape at Rollins,” wrote Chief Marketing & Community Relations Officer Sam Stark, “we are putting a temporary hold on our Lawrence Center and Alfond Inn expansions in order to explore and evaluate some cost-saving and project-sharing opportunities that will benefit the College and the community.”
One thing about Rollins is, unlike Mayor Leary, they know when to say, “when.”
We saw this during the proposed professional sports stadium discussions a few years ago. When Rollins realized that the project had essentially no community support, or at the very least was highly controversial and detested by thousands of Winter Park residents, they backed off.
Rollins, should it have pursued the expansion of The Alfond onto existing library property, would have found itself in the unenviable position as having been a beneficiary of what many thousands of residents believe to be a heist of their beloved Fairbanks library.
Rollins is doing the right thing both from a community relations standpoint and as a business decision, by passing on the Alfond expansion opportunity.
Before you start cheering though, remember we still have a highly confused Winter Park City Commission regarding the meaning of the words “representative government.” They still plan to plunge ahead with their silly new library blunder in the park. And no doubt they are already setting their sights on redeveloping our perfectly good existing library property into some other crazy high density scheme.
I wish the voice had published opposition from the get go.