CRESTVIEW — The historic downtown district will follow the latest urban dining trend this fall when Crestview Commons opens on Main Street.
The City Council on Monday approved a proposal for an outdoor eatery featuring up to three mobile food services with permanent restrooms, landscaping and patio dining.
Crestview Commons will be on a currently vacant lot owned by Main Street attorney Nathan Boyles beside Foster Families of America thrift store. The project will allow innovative restaurateurs to introduce new cuisine ideas while offering patrons diverse dining choices, he said.
"Young gourmet chefs often can't afford $200,000 to start a brick-and-mortar restaurant," said Boyles, a Main Street Crestview Association member.
Some council members praised Boyles' project and his previous contributions to Main Street, including opening his office courtyard to a weekly farmers market.
"I've seen the projects you have done downtown and I have to commend you on how they look," Councilman Tom Gordon said.
"I think it would be a great benefit to the city," Councilman Shannon Hayes said.
Councilman Joe Blocker questioned the aesthetics of downtown food-preparation vehicles and cast the lone "nay" ballot in the 4-1 vote approving Crestview Commons.
"A trailer's a trailer, no matter how you sugarcoat it," Blocker said.
Crestview Commons passed all of the city's development stages, including approval by the fire department, the Technical Review Committee and the Local Planning Agency.
The process took more than a year, during which a similar project in Pensacola went from concept to opening in a matter of months, Boyles said.
Crestview's review process "stymies forward-looking projects," he said.
"We have outdated and outmoded codes that do not address the changing times," Boyles said. "Frankly, it's the young generation that's going to be the savior or sound the death-knell of the downtown district."
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Brian Hughes at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbBrian.