Fort Lauderdale aquatics complex up for $27 million renovation

Fort Lauderdale aquatics complex up for $27 million renovation

Fort Lauderdale aquatics complex up for $27 million renovation

Fort Lauderdale’s aquatics complex could finally be renovated, after years of failed effort by the city.

Commissioners are scheduled to vote Tuesday on a $27 million renovation contract with Hensel Phelps Construction Co. The city has worked for about a decade on a plan to modernize the swimming and diving complex. The $27 million bid is $7 million higher than the city had hoped. But city staff are recommending moving forward with it, according to a city memo.

Fort Lauderdale’s competitive swimming heritage dates back to the 1920s. At the old Casino Pool on the beach — now D.C. Alexander Park — the best in the sport competed. The aquatics center was built in 1965 just west of it, on a spit of land jutting into the Intracoastal Waterway. Ten world records have been set there, according to the city.

The aging facility is in need of improvements, city leaders and those who use the complex agree.

Still, the project to renovate it has been on a meandering timeline, one that includes at $76.1 million renovation plan in 2009, a county inspector general’s censure over the construction bids in 2013 and a recent unsolicited offer that involves adding a hotel to the site. In addition, operators of the nonprofit International Swimming Hall of Fame at the property threatened to move the museum to California.

Two firms submitted bids: Hensel Phelps and Gulf Building Inc. An evaluation committee selected Hensel Phelps to negotiate a deal with.

The contractor would be required to “provide pools that meet international standards,” build seating for spectators, and “increase programming opportunities” at the complex, a city memo says.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

Brittany Wallman can be reached at bwallman@sun-sentinel.com or 954-356-4541. Find her on Twitter @BrittanyWallman.

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