Buoyed by a successful three years with average occupancy now above 90 percent, Rollins College is exploring expansion of The Alfond Inn, with fundraising from donors to lead pre-development planning over the next year, a lead executive with the college told GrowthSpotter.
Located at 300 E. New England Ave. a block north of the Rollins College campus, the five-story, 112-key hotel property covers 3.35 acres, which include a 122-space surface parking lot to its east.
When the hotel was built prior to its August 2013 opening, it was done so with future expansion in mind in an eastward direction down New England Avenue, running up to the city's 1.67-acre public library property.
That addition is now targeted as 70 to 80 rooms on the surface parking lot, with new structured parking for the hotel, said Jeffrey Eisenbarth, vice president for business, finance and treasurer.
The college is in the process of pricing out the expansion and new garage to determine development costs, and fundraising targets, Eisenbarth said.
"After three years and average occupancy at 90 percent we're now at stabilization, which allows us to know our revenue and expenses," he said. "We're early in the discussions of adding to the hotel. Lining up the funding is priority no. 1, and we're in the process of working through that."
Built on the site of the former Langford Hotel, The Alfond Inn was a $30 million project by Rollins that was paid for through a combination of school funds and charitable gifts from alumni and community members.
The college will finance this expansion in the same way, said Eisenbarth, avoiding private debt. That fundraising would be done behind the scenes, part of a comprehensive plan campaign by Rollins' development and alumni program.
Once fundraising is complete, a process that could run over the next year, Rollins College would engage the city with a development plan, Eisanbarth said. It would likely work with the same architect and general contractor that built the hotel's first phase, Baker Barrios and Brasfield & Gorrie.
The property is fully entitled for expansion up to 260 hotel rooms, giving Rollins a clear path for an eventual development plan.
Opened in part as a recruiting tool and first impression for prospective Rollins students, demographics now show roughly 90 percent of the Alfond's patrons are not college-related guests, Eisanbarth said.
"It's all about location. Our proximity to campus and Park Avenue have made this the place to stay in downtown Winter Park," he said.
The Alfond Inn is one of only two hotels in Winter Park, along with the 24-room Park Plaza Hotel on Park Avenue.
GrowthSpotter reported on Friday that a group of local investors, led by Winter Park-based attorney Mike Maher, are proposing to convert a 16-year-old office building near downtown Winter Park into a 120-room boutique hotel with new construction.