CRESTVIEW — The City Council, after much discussion, is no closer to determining a use for a practically new, never-used industrial building offered to the city. However, city leaders said at a Monday work session that they would learn more about the possibilities following upcoming feasibility studies.
After hearing multiple suggestions, council members agreed that simply plucking the 3,552-square-foot warehouse off donor Gulf Power’s Cadle Drive site and depositing it on a piece of city-owned land is not that easy.
Councilwoman Robyn Helt again suggested using the building as a recreational facility at Countryview Park.
Library Director Jean Lewis suggested using a portion of it as a branch library at the Countryview Park site, citing proximity to Antioch Elementary School as an advantage.
Police Chief Tony Taylor hoped to use at least half the building for processing impounded vehicles.
Council President Ben Iannucci III continued to push for the building's placement on city-owned land behind the Brookmeade Public Safety building for use as a recycling center.
"The benefit of having it is it is revenue generating," Iannucci said. Grants are available for finishing off the building, including constructing the foundation slab and parking, he said, while other suggested uses would cost the city operational money.
Public Works and City Planning staffers said the city would face building code requirements that could include required parking spaces, drainage retention ponds and landscaping. Additionally, changing the building’s occupancy use changes its fire classification rating — potentially costing more in insurance, Fire Chief Joe Traylor said.
Any uses for the building, including if it is divided in two halves, would have to go through the Technical Review Committee and the Local Planning Agency to meet the zoning code, city officials said.
"We have to scrutinize ourselves as tightly as we scrutinize anyone else," city planner Eric Davis said.
Councilman Thomas Gordon recommended directing department heads to investigate the various ideas suggested during the workshop and perform a feasibility study of each.
Any proposals must fall within the existing city budget, Iannucci said.
Assistant Public Works Director Carlos Jones — substituting for Director Wayne Steele, who was ill — said his department would research options and report to the council later.
Meanwhile, he said, the city has received an extension to the previous deadline of removing the building from the utility’s site by March’s end.
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Brian Hughes at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbBrian.