Rollins College & Winter Park consider partnering on new campus parking garage

Bob Moser

Rollins College may partner with the City of Winter Park on increasing the size of a planned campus parking garage, a potential $2.5 million investment by the city if the larger option is pursued. 

Located at 200 E. New England and 203 E. Lyman avenues, the Rollins property currently has the 44,433-square-foot Lawrence Center office building, which will remain.

The college is planning a multi-phased expansion of the Lawrence Center, in which an 18,487-square-foot college support building (known as the Pioneer Building) would be replaced in Phase 1 by a new parking garage. 

That garage's initial design was for 38,945 square feet over three levels with 184 parking spaces, a project estimated at $5.5 million by general contractor Brasfield & Gorrie

Mayor Steve Leary raised the topic at the June 11 City Commission meeting, asking city staff to pursue talks with Rollins College of partnering on additional shared garage parking on the campus. 

The two sides will now begin discussing the logistics of a five-story garage totaling 305 spaces, of which the additional 121 spaces would be for public use. That version's construction cost was estimated at $8 million, via a pro-rated cost per parking space of about $21,000. 

"We are open to the idea of a partnership in order to help the college and the community," Rollins' spokesman Sam Stark told GrowthSpotter. "Our costs will not increase. The cost of the new garage will obviously be more than our initial plan, but it will be priced in line with the new, yet to be determined, number of spaces."

Phase 2 of the Lawrence Center expansion would include a new museum and Phase 3 a new Crummer Business School building, which Rollins would seek separate conditional use permits for in the future. 

Stark said that Rollins is aware of national trends in parking demand and the prospects that future ride-sharing and automated vehicles may make large garages less necessary. But "the demand in Winter Park seems to remain high as our community offers so much to such a diverse audience," he said. 

Details of a potential partnership are nascent, with in-depth discussions still to come and meetings yet to be held. It's undetermined what percentage of the project cost the city would bear, or what role it would have in eventual ownership and management. 

As for overall plans for the Lawrence Center expansion aside from the garage, Rollins has not produced a formal master plan and is still discussing best use of the property's footprint, said Stark, who declined to estimate costs of each phase. 

The college is focused for now on its planned expansion of The Alfond Inn, and the Lawrence Center parking garage discussion.

Parking management in Winter Park's downtown is one of the major goals of its Community Redevelopment Agency plan, and adding new supply was a strategic initiative provided in the 2017 parking study conducted by Kimley-Horn.

In review of the CRA budget, city staff said it can account for up to $3.3 million for use on a new, larger parking garage at Rollins College without significantly impacting its current capital improvement plan. 

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