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Winter Park / Maitland Observer Sunday, Sep. 2, 2018 10 months ago

Rollins College halts The Alfond Inn Expansion, Lawrence Center project

The college has decided to withdraw its requests for public hearings to evaluate cost and parking options.
by: Tim Freed Managing Editor

Two major Rollins College projects set for the downtown Winter Park area have been put on hold – for now.

The college withdrew public hearing requests on Wednesday, Aug. 29 for the anticipated The Alfond Inn expansion and the Lawrence Center project, which would have included a new Cornell Fine Arts Museum, a new Crummer Graduate School of Business and a proposed parking garage.

Plans for The Alfond Inn Expansion were set to go before the Winter Park Planning and Zoning Board at some point in October, while the the Lawrence Center – set to replace the existing Rollins College building at the corner of Lyman and Knowles avenues – was planned to go before the board on Tuesday, Sept. 11.

Leaders from Rollins College pulled away from the public hearings to reevaluate potential options, according to an official statement.

“With so many exciting and mission-critical projects taking shape at Rollins, 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,” the statement read.

In addition to seeking more cost options, parking was also a factor, according to the letter of withdrawal sent by Rollins College on Wednesday. 

“As you know, Rollins College desires to expand The Alfond Inn at Rollins College, build a new facility to house the Cornell Fine Arts Museum, and relocate the Crummer Graduate School of Business,” the letter reads. “The projects (are) being referred to as the ‘Innovation Triangle.’ In reviewing these projects, in combination with those planned for the campus south of Fairbanks Avenue, the college wants to ensure that adequate parking is being provided in location(s) most convenient to our guests, students and faculty.”

“We would like to withdraw these hearing requests on order that we may investigate other potential parking locations to better meet the needs of the college and the residents of Winter Park.”

According to the public notice about the Lawrence Center, the city of Winter Park was considering a partnership with Rollins to bring the three-level parking garage up to five or six levels. That would have given the structure an additional 120-180 parking spaces, helping the city eat into a perceived parking deficit in the Park Avenue area.

The expansion to The Alfond Inn would have added even more space and amenities to a business that generates more than $17 million in top-line revenues, welcomes more than 22,000 guests every year, and runs an annualized occupancy of 90%. 

Building off the original developers agreement for the hotel when it was approved by the city, phase two was set include 70 hotel rooms; a 7,000-square-foot spa/health club; a 4,000-square-foot meeting space/gallery; 323 square feet of retail space; and 152 parking spaces (21 surface/131 garage).

Rollins College looks forward to continuing discussions with the city about these projects soon, according to the letter of withdrawal.

Tim Freed is the Managing Editor for the West Orange Times & Observer and the Windermere Observer. He previously spent six years covering the Winter Park/Maitland area and is a graduate of the University of Central Florida....

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