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FORT LAUDERDALE, FL-This city’s Community Redevelopment Agency is sending out bid letters to qualified architects and developers who might be interested in turning a prime 18-acre, city-owned tract into a showcase development. The dirt is just west of Interstate 95 on Broward Boulevard and is being touted as the natural gateway to Downtown.

Florida Atlantic University officials believe that, too, and already are pitching for a high-tech research and development park on the site. FAU’s computer-related continuing education programs would also be housed there.

But city officials are taking their time making a decision. Parts of the site over the years have been promoted as an arena for the Florida Panthers hockey team and a baseball stadium for the Florida Marlins. Car dealers and office developers have also wooed the city without striking a deal.

The city itself is constrained to some extent on utilizing the entire 18-acre site. Fort Lauderdale owns 10 acres outright which it bought from Konover Property Trust for $3 million or $30,000 per acre (69 cents per sf).

The balance of the land, however, is occupied by a juvenile detention facility, a Tri-Rail parking lot and Delevoe Park. The city wants to land swap the detention tract with juvenile justice officials but no deal is yet in the works.

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