Additional downtown parking lot opens

parking lot opens downtown pharmacy school

A new parking lot on Wilson Street is close to Florida A&M’s pharmacy school, center, City Hall, Sharing and Caring, downtown businesses and Okaloosa County Elder Services.

BRIAN HUGHES / News Bulletin
Published: Friday, March 15, 2013 at 10:42 AM.

CRESTVIEW — A downtown parking lot on Wilson Street hasn’t attracted many users since its Feb. 25 ribbon-cutting, but city officials think that will change as word spreads that the car park is available.

"I drove by during the day and counted five cars in the lot," Assistant Public Works Director Carlos Jones said Monday evening.

Florida A&M Rural Diversity Healthcare Center, JobsPlus and City Hall are about a block away. Main Street shops, restaurants and other businesses are just a few minutes' walk away. Downtown events — such as the upcoming Triple B festival and the Spanish Trail Cruisers' Average Joe Car Show — can benefit from the parking lot, which also is a staging area for Okaloosa County Transit buses.

"And I would imagine as the (FAMU pharmacy) school gets busier and more businesses move downtown, (the lot)’ll take off," Jones said.

The paving project also included formerly gravel and dirt lots around the county Elder Services office and the Sharing and Caring food bank next to the main parking lot, producing 76 parking spaces.

Acquiring suitable property for the lot was difficult. A parcel behind Desi's Restaurant was one option before the owner took it off the market following questions about his selling price, which was higher than the property's appraised value.

The Community Redevelopment Agency, funding the project through a Community Development Block Grant, scrambled to find space before the grant expired. Work began on the Wilson Street lot just north of Elder Services last October.

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