CRESTVIEW The Community Redevelopment Agency board is taking a serious look at downtown improvements it can make in its last 11 years before district designation sunsets in 2025. At a Feb. 13 workshop, board members received an analysis of its master plan from Economic Development Council vice president Kay Rasmussen.

CRESTVIEW The Community Redevelopment Agency board is considering downtown improvements it can make in its last 11 years. The district designation sunsets in 2025.

Now, board members have Economic Development Council Vice President Kay Rasmussen's analysis of their master plan. The CRA's existing plan, last updated in 1998, gives the board wide leeway to enhance the district, she said.

Feasible "activity programs" include building rehabilitation; downtown marketing and promotion; public-private partnerships such as with the Main Street Crestview Association; a downtown amphitheater; vehicular traffic pattern improvements; and single family infill housing, Rasmussen said.

"Anything you want to do, you can do," she said.

The plan supports programming events to draw people downtown, recommending at least two festivals a year, a goal already surpassed by events including the Triple B Festival, the Average Joe Car Show and the Fall Festival.

Projects under consideration, including a linear park linking the historic district with Twin Hills Park and a community garden, received Rasmussen's enthusiastic endorsement.

Residential base

During a CRA workshop Thursday, consultant Jack Dorman, stressed the importance of establishing a downtown residential base, which will require a land use code change.

"We've got to have a downtown that doesn't close at 5 o'clock in the afternoon," he said. "There has to be residents and residences that don't close after sunset."

Florida A&M University officials have expressed concerns about the lack of affordable student housing, Mayor David Cadle said. Dorman said a zone change would allow student housing, such as apartments above downtown businesses.

Having a three-story downtown building with commercial on the first floor, offices on the second and residential on the third could "triple the rental potential, but right now we can't offer that," city planner Eric Davis said.

Board members expressed enthusiasm for the potential to realize many of their goals.

"I'm overwhelmed by your presentation, but in reality we can make it happen," board member Joe Blocker said.


The Community Redevelopment Agency's next meeting is 5 p.m. Feb. 24 at Crestview City Hall

Email News Bulletin Staff Writer Brian Hughes, follow him on Twitter or call 850-682-6524.