Rollins College hotel gets final approval

Parking concerns some

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  • | 10:06 a.m. December 14, 2011
The groundbreaking of the Alfond Inn Nov. 4.
The groundbreaking of the Alfond Inn Nov. 4.
  • Winter Park - Maitland Observer
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Rollins College is on its way to having its own hotel, and Winter Park will get a new nighttime lounge after the City Commission voted 5-0 to allow the Alfond Inn’s development to go forward.

But the Commission and some residents took their final parting shots at the hotel, which will make generous use of nearby parking lots in order to satisfy city code for parking capacity. They also attacked the proposed hotel for its potential to add to traffic problems nearby.

A Nov. 16 work session had provided the final details on the planned hotel, which will have 112 rooms and will also act as an entertainment venue and a bar/lounge for locals.

“The takeaway was it’s a very good plan,” planning director Jeff Briggs said. “The only issue is how to manage the SunTrust garage.”

Rebecca Wilson, representing Rollins College, said that parking wouldn’t be an issue, thanks to use agreements with local churches and businesses to utilize nearby parking for spillover parking from the hotel.

“Rollins College will own or have use of more than 1,250 parking spaces,” Wilson said. “It doesn’t make sense to have this parking sit empty and then require us to build more parking.”

Parking and traffic issues drew the most fire from some residents, who said that the hotel could cause a traffic nightmare for a large number of residents across the street from the hotel.

Resident and local architect Phil Kean said that traffic in front of Alexander Place, which would be across the street from the proposed hotel, was already bad enough. The hotel, he said, would make it worse.

“That will be a big problem,” said Jim Campisi, president of the Villa Siena Homeowners Association.

After more than an hour of discussion about parking on New England Avenue and the possible addition of a turn lane, the Commission voted unanimously to let the proposed hotel move forward, contingent upon the hotel’s developer reaching an agreement with The Residences complex nearby. That agreement was expected to be reached this week.

Briggs said that the hotel, once opened, will operate for six months before another meeting will be held to review any problems it has, and then to attempt to correct them.

Mayor Ken Bradley said he thought the hotel’s problems would be obvious much more quickly than that.

“We’re going to know this in six or seven minutes tops, not six months,” he said.

Regardless of future issues, Briggs said that the city and the college would solve them.

“We’ll make sure that the hotel is successful and what everybody wants or needs it to be,” Briggs said. “If there’s a problem, we’ve got the cure and the solution.”


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