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FORT LAUDERDALE, FL-City officials are trying to decide what to do with the city’s historic New River Post Office, which was built in 1927 along the Riverwalk and now stands vacant.

After listening to four widely varied conceptual proposals from local developers and organizations at a recent meeting, city commissioners decided to start a formal bidding process. The commission has asked city staff to prepare a draft request for proposals for the commissioners to consider at their Jan. 23 meeting, City Clerk Lucy Masliah tells GlobeSt.com.

Once approved, the RFP will be sent out to both for-profit and non-profit organizations. Masliah says the city will consider all proposals, including but not limited to the four that have already been presented. The commission has not ruled out tearing down the often-remodeled building, despite a recommendation from the city’s advisory Historic Preservation Board that the building not be demolished.

Two of the four conceptual proposals, one by developer and real estate broker Alan Hooper and the other by the non-profit Broward Center for the Performing Arts Center Authority, call for replacing the building with a commercial development.

The Performing Arts proposal calls for a new $6.1 million building that would include 20,000 sf of retail and entertainment and waterfront dining along the Riverwalk and a 300-seat community theater. The second floor would have office space, workshops, gallery space or additional restaurants.

The Broward Art Guild is proposing a $295,600 renovation of the building to turn it into a Fort Lauderdale Arts Center with year-round exhibition space for seminars, workshops, after-school art programs and mentoring programs for children, artist studios, sculpture gardens and a gift shop featuring local artists. Also included would be a glass-blowing studio tour, gondola rides along the New River and art programs for seniors.

Former Mayor Bob Cox wants to renovate the building and use it for a Fort Lauderdale Maritime Museum.

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