CRESTVIEW — Downtown Crestview may soon have a new marketing agency, and new gateway signs are moving into the design phase.

The Community Redevelopment Agency heard a presentation from Chuck Branch, managing partner of NextSite, at its March 12 quarterly meeting. The CRA also voted to approve a revised design contract for new gateway signs.

NextSite is a retail consulting firm out of Birmingham, Ala. that provides research and market analysis for retail development to cities nationwide.

The NextSite presentation focused on how the company would attract chain retailers to Crestview, both in the downtown area and the greater city area. The CRA had previously partnered with Retail Strategies, another Birmingham firm, but declined to renew that contract in September after not getting the expected results.

Branch focused on the traffic that flows through the city as a key attractor of new businesses.

“You have tremendous traffic counts that I believe a lot of developers and tenant reps do not understand at this point in time,” Branch said. “We’ve got to communicate that message to them that in addition to the demographics, look at those 45,000 and 50,000 cars that are coming south to north or north to south in the morning.”

The presentation was preliminary and did not include a price tag. The cost of any contract with NextSite would be split between the CRA and the city.

Gateway Signs

The CRA voted unanimously to approve revisions to a design contract for new gateway entrance signs downtown.

Polyengineering, a firm out of Dothan, has been contracted to develop the signs, and can now begin design work after the revisions were approved.

The firm has been contracted to design three signs for the downtown area, including an archway, a monument sign and a column sign.

There was some debate over the price of the revised contract, which is not to exceed $25,000 whether the submitted designs are approved by the CRA or not.

“The cost is in-line. It’s normal. It’s not outrageous at all,” city Public Services Director Wayne Steele said, responding to questions from board members. “Costs have gone up tremendously, especially for design and architectural engineering-type costs. And the reason (is when) they spend a lot of time doing this, and then you don’t do the project, they still have all that time invested in design work.”

CRA board member Ron Gautney was concerned with how long the project would take.

“How fast can you get the information back up here, and how fast can you have them sign for that?” Gautney asked. “I don’t want to wait three years to get it. I don’t even want to wait three months.”