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Request Alternatives for the Old Library

The City Commission will consider the proposed lease of the old library building this coming Wednesday, January 11. City staff is recommending against entering into the proposed lease (click here for details).

Please review the staff recommendation and my letter to the commission below. Let the commission know your view on this issue. Please ask them to seek alternatives.

My recent letter to the commission:

Mayor and Commissioners,

Please fully vet all reasoned alternatives to the proposed lease of the old library building. The proposed lease does not substantially meet the requirements of the original RFP given the intent of the lessor to rent the building as small office suites and the lack of sufficient parking for the intended use. Further, the proposal greatly undervalues use of the land and would allow the property to be locked up for 70 years.

  • There is certainly a sales price for the old library property that can secure four votes, and with flexibility in building allowances and use as luxury condominiums, the price likely ranges between $10 and $25 million. This compares to a $4 million present value for the proposed lease payments. Further, as noted by staff, a long term land lease at market value likely has a present value exceeding $20 million.
  • Alternatively, the old library building can be used as city hall with existing parking capacity given the under utilization of other existing city owned buildings.
  • The cost of renovating the old library building to serve as city hall can be accomplished for significantly less than $10 million, and can be financed by leasing the existing city hall property while realizing a net profit to the city annually.
  • The design requirements for redevelopment of the existing city hall property are under the absolute control of the commission. Why not ask the development community what a land lease price would be under different development scenarios?

This is to specifically request that the commission:

  1. End consideration of the current proposed lease of the old library building.
  2. Issue a Request for Proposal to sell the old library land for use as luxury condominiums, requesting a price proposal under R4 Code limitations, and under parameters up to those realized in the adjacent Residences condominiums.
  3. Issue a Request for Proposal to lease the existing city hall property for redevelopment as both a 3 story or a 4 story mixed use building with parking structure. Also, complete a detailed study of using the old library as a replacement for city hall. This should be done as part of a complete space needs analysis for all city operations and staff.
  4. Schedule at least 2 public meetings noticed city wide to review the details of all proposals and studies before making any commitment.

You have an opportunity to create value for Winter Park residents. Please vet all reasonable alternatives fully and transparently. Your constituents deserve this.

Regards, Pete Weldon

Posted in Policy.

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