Hey Jay, I am sure Clay will pitch in since he also uses a NuArc. In my case, I have both the NuArc and a fluorescent tube one, the tube unit was the first one I obtained and without a doubt the NuArc is a lot easier to use and better to control exposures. The foot print for both will be large, as a matter of fact the box with the fluorescent tubes is bigger and bulkier than the Nu Arc 26-1k. I lost the pic of my darkroom but the NuArc actually takes less room than my Zone VI enlarger. As I said before if you are patient you can find them in E bay really cheap and they are worth the price of shipping, no comercially made tube unit will compare to the Nu Arc.
Check out the article by Sandy King in unblinkingeye.com. You will get a better idea of the type of unit you want, and get great information on why mercury units are a lot better.
Ah men, I guess I should try and answer your question. Yes! the Nu Arc is worth the shipping price, much better than any FL tube unit. Size wise they will both take the same amount of pace if you want to print up to 16x20.
If you only want to do 8x10 then the Fl will be much smaller but I think in photography size does matter.....I rather have the extra capability than further down the road wishing I would have gotten the bigger one. The actual price difference from a new 8x10 unit from edwards engineering and a good used Nu Arc from E bay is nothing, actually I think the Edwards unit would be more expensive and you dont get a vacuum frame.
So, if you are serious about pt, and want to get equipment that will make your life easier then get the Nu Arc, if you want to just try pt and have some measure of control then build yourself an 8x10 unit. In the end you will spend about $250 for the FL box, or about $600 for the Nu Arc.