Herbst: The one story was that there was a woman by the name of Peggy Strong who uh, whose husband had been a mayor of Winter Park, the family has been a long time Winter Park family. She’s very involved in kind of retaining the old, what was perceived as, Winter Park and Peggy and a group fought us at every meeting. And as time went on and the months went on-you know-the number of people that showed up diminished, diminished, diminished, diminished until at the last meeting I think Peggy was the only one there. She did not say anything at that meeting and ultimately we got a five-0 vote, the city commission in support of the project. But the story connected with that is years later after the project had been built and this goes back maybe now five years ago from now, when her son, David, was the mayor. And I was sitting in the city commission chambers, as I often went to city commission meetings, uh and they were talking about a development and there was some criticism of it and Peggy was in the audience. David’s the mayor sitting up there presiding. My cell phone rings and it’s Rita Bornstein and I ignored it the first time.
They’re going on and David is saying “Well, you know the example of really good development in Winter Park is SunTrust Plaza and that’s the way development should occur. The way-the process that they went through, the outcome, they’ve been very successful and it is the model of good development in Winter Park.”
My phone rang again, it was Rita, so I went out of the chambers and answered it and I said, “Rita, you won’t believe where I’m at and what’s going on here.” Here I am in the city commission chambers, the same committee chambers that-you know-was probably almost eight or nine, ten years before we had gone through all the controversy to build it, and here is Peggy in the audience and her son, the mayor, sitting up there with me in the audience and Rita trying to reach me on the phone, and David is saying what a great project SunTrust Plaza was. So, I said “I should live so long to have gone through all of that and in the end see it held up as the model of good development.” That’s the SunTrust Plaza story.
Herbst Discusses Renovating Sutton Place (Play Audio)
Herbst: But we had to vacate the building. So we announced that in a year and a half we were going to close it for the summer and we were going to remove the asbestos. The only way we could remove the asbestos from the hallways was to close the building, because you had to go through the hallways to get to the rooms. You couldn’t remove the asbestos and have people living in (coughs)-
Well, we gave people uh, an extended time on their lease and offered them to get out of their leases early and so forth. But, you could imagine the press, there are newspaper articles about it. There were clips on TV. They of course always put the little ninety-year old lady that they always put out in front of the TV and press cameras that this college was putting these people out of their homes.
Uh, their homes, they were apartments. We gave them an extended lease, we gave them an option to get out of them, we gave them an option to stay longer to provide time to find-you know-housing. So-you know-from our conscience point-in our conscience we knew that we were being more than fair. But of course, when you get a press story going it’s sometimes hard to be heard above the noise.
But, uh we went through with it and in that one year we actually had students and residents living in the building.
Herbst: The city was never going to be able to get a welcome center; the chamber was never going to be able to be able to get a home.
But the two of them together, the city had some CRA funds, they had the land, the chamber could sell this land and contribute-ultimately the chamber sold that land for probably two point two million or something like that, I mean it was a huge, it was in a boom time again, we sold it at the right time-created an endowment for the chamber, gave the city nine hundred thousand in exchange for a ninety-nine-year lease. So, the chamber’s on the second floor and the welcome center’s on the first floor and it’s operated by the chamber but, that was a partner project that I did.
And so, my-I was very, very out into the local community. And my last tie to the chamber was actually when I was on sabbatical here. They were between presidents and they asked me and I served for three months as the CEO of the chamber. But that building over there is another one that I’m pretty proud of that was actually pulled-that project off-and so it’s a great partnership between-you know-the two and it’s a legacy in the city.
Herbst: It was only in my last year here that I felt that the college had achieved financial stability, that we had built the endowment. And a lot of people think the endowment building came from the Cornell gift. Certainly the Cornell gift was significant, and I was the one who closed out that estate and dealt with all of that. But, um, the financial health had been achieved prior to the Cornell gift; the Cornell gift was over and above in strengthening the financial position of the college. I have to tell other institutions always, they all say, Well, yeah Rollins has had the Cornell gift. I’m going, “Let me tell you we built financial health and strength there before the Cornell gift. The Cornell gift was on top of that and made it stronger.”
But we went out-I’m trying to think in what year now-uh ninety-excuse me-2007. ‘Cause I returned 2008, 2007. And we went to Moody’s for a bond rating and we received an A1 bond rating which is the best rating of any private-you know-college or university in the state of Florida. University of Miami is an A2, Stetson is an A3, there are a lot of those in the Bs. But Rollins was rated the highest by Moody’s for its financial health.
Herbst: President Bornstein was very frustrated by a lot of architectural work which looked like resorts or office buildings or planned communities and that’s not collegiate architect-landscape. And so, we ultimately ended the search we hired Carol in-probably-‘96, my first year. And she was the one constant hand to the campus. Different architects did different buildings and-you know-I know them all and I can tell you (electronic interference) about all of them but Carol and her firm out of Boston were the constant landscape architects for the campus. And she set about a Rollins design; just as today for me she is doing a Stetson design. I mean, everything is unique and she is not a plant picker, she is really a visionary for the look of a place and the setting (??).
One of her first recommendations and decisions was the addition to this
building [Olin library] was set back because originally it-as you
approach the front of the building-it was almost parallel to the front
of the building. And it would have blocked the view that exists of the
lake out there. And her first recommendation to us was, “No, no, no.
Do not let that building-that addition to the library-be built there,
because you will block a wonderful vista toward the lake.” And so the
building addition on this building is set back, and it is set back
because of her recommendation on her-probably her first