BRATTLEBORO -- Alan Steinberg thinks it's a good place for a new clay studio and school.
Graeme King can picture a boat launch and storage area.
And Bob Crego is interested in the site's potential for development.
About two dozen people showed up at the Archery Building at 26 Depot Street Thursday to take a look at the inside of the structure before they consider whether they want to send a request for proposal to the town of Brattleboro to partner on the development of the property.
The building has been vacant since 2006 when it was purchased by the town as part of the ongoing Union Station development.
That work, which includes a new green space and parking area, bus station turnaround and improved views of the Connecticut River, is expected to be completed by the end of this summer.
After finding out that the building had historical significance, the town decided to ask for ideas for redevelopment since there was no town money available to rehabilitate it.
On Thursday town officials opened the building up for the first time to give potential developers a look inside.
Steinberg, who is a member of Brattleboro Clayworks, said the site could become the newest member of the Vermont Crafts Council, a statewide group that supports craft schools and artists.
Steinberg said with a riverside school, the new clay studio could become a contributing member of Brattleboro's growing art campus, which includes
"All of these studios could work with each other and create something that is beyond what each is on its own," Steinberg said.
On the tour Thursday, engineer Bob Stevens and Assistant Town Manager Patrick Moreland took the group of potential developers through the building.
The inside has been used by the homeless for housing and is littered with alcohol bottles and clothing.
The interior does not contain too many historical artifacts, and Stevens said the developer will have to negotiate redevelopment work with state historical preservation specialists.
The building needs some work on the roof, Stevens said, but he said the structure was robust.
He said there is a potential to expand out toward the north end of the building.
The Archery Building was originally constructed in 1849 and might have been the town's first railroad station.
Over the years it has been used as a rail yard storehouse, meat packing plant, beer and wine warehouse, and then an archery shop beginning in the 1970s.
The town is looking for ideas for the one-and-one-half story, 5,013-square-foot building, which has town water and sewer service.
All proposals will be considered by a committee made up of members of the town's Union Station Committee, Planning Commission, SBA Committee, Recreation and Parks Department and Arts Committee.
The ad hoc committee will rate each proposal on how it conforms to the town plan and to the RFP, and also on how financially viable the proposed business plan looks.
The committee will then turn the proposals, and its report, over to the Selectboard.
The board will meet with the applicants and then decide which plan seems most likely to succeed.
The town will be receiving proposals until Sept. 12.
The town expects the successful applicant to pay for all renovation and maintenance costs, though it has not explained how much the new tenant will be expected to pay to rent the property.
A second site visit is planned for Aug. 7 at 1 p.m.
For more information, or to receive the RFP, call the town manager's office at 802-251-8100.
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at email@example.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 279