$30K grant allowing residences could stimulate downtown economy

Rainy downtown

Downtown streets, which lack residences, typically are quiet after 5 p.m.

BRIAN HUGHES / News Bulletin
Published: Thursday, April 25, 2013 at 04:27 PM.

CRESTVIEW — As most downtown merchants can attest, there's one thing missing there after 5 p.m.: people.

However, if Crestview attracts a $30,000 Community Planning Technical Assistance Grant from the state Department of Economic Development, empty nighttime sidewalks might echo with downtown residents’ footsteps.

The Crestview City Council at its Monday meeting unanimously approved submitting an application for the grant. The money would fund downtown rezoning, redrawing the city's comprehensive plan, and creating a mixed commercial and residential Future Land Use district.

Currently, downtown residential properties are limited to single-dwelling units for downtown commercial property owners or managers. Consequently, former residential units above most Main Street businesses remain vacant.

Meanwhile, downtown residential opportunities could benefit students and staff at Florida A&M University’s pharmacy school, growth management consultant Jack Dorman said.

"It's our opinion — and this has been proven successfully — if you keep your first-level store fronts and businesses, but allow second- and third-floor residential uses, you then have a population base downtown that live there," Dorman said.

Downtown residents would drive demand for services such as dry cleaners, more restaurants, shopping and entertainment venues. The result could increase the city's tax base and provide more opportunities for all residents, Dorman said.

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