Proposals for old library building fail again
The highly visible building off Aloma Avenue will remain vacant indefinitely as the City Commission considers what to do next
Jan. 12, 2024
By Beth Kassab
For the second time in a year, a proposal to transform the old Winter Park Library building on New England and Aloma Avenues has failed because of financial concerns.
City Commissioners voted 3-1 on Thursday against moving forward with the only plan that qualified for public discussion: a concept known as SOAR that billed itself as a space and science museum and learning center. Todd Weaver cast the dissenting vote.
Commissioners expressed concerns over the financial feasibility of the plan, which proposed to rent the building from the city under a long-term lease.
The decision lands the city back at the same position it found itself in a year ago — uncertain about the future of the building left empty when the new Winter Park Library on Morse Boulevard opened at the end of 2021.
Last year commissioners ended an exclusive deal with a developer to transform the old library into co-working space that also featured a café and event space.
A few months later, the commission opted to ask for another round of proposals for the site with a potential focus on workforce housing and providing workspace to local nonprofits. Only two proposals came in after commissioners pondered out loud during summer budget hearings about whether they should just sell the building to raise revenue instead. Ultimately, only the proposal for the museum met the qualifications for public discussion.
Spokeswoman Clarissa Howard said the next steps are likely to be discussed at an upcoming Commission meeting, though a date has not yet been set.