Town will get a new look

Downtown Keystone Heights will undergo a transformation, thanks to the funding of a Community Redevelopment Plan that calls for a uniform look in the area

AIDA MALLARD/Community News corresponden
Published: Wednesday, January 12, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 11, 2005 at 10:40 p.m.
Decorative light fixtures and street planters. Uniform roadside benches and trash containers. Small-scale retail businesses and professional offices.
After five years in the making, a look and character unique only to the downtown area of Keystone Heights is closer to reality, and the funds to make it all work are finally within the city's grasps.
The City Council adopted an ordinance that provides for a Community Redevelopment Plan. Now, the city is poised to reap the benefits of financing to fund redevelopment in blighted areas, as it relates to traffic and parking issues.
City Planner Susan Fraser said the plan is general in scope, so it will not bind the city to concepts. She said including details in the document would result in amendments when priorities changed.
"Do not make a list that we will be constantly changing," Fraser said.
The plan seeks to create a unified character in town by recommending a uniform design for roadside benches, trash containers, decorative light fixtures and street planters.
It also provides for traffic-calming and safe-pedestrian crossing within the Core and South Lawrence areas in downtown Keystone Heights. The plan protects the character of downtown by limiting the building scale and site design, the cornerstone of the city's redevelopment plan.
Fraser said within the Core and South Lawrence mixed-use areas, businesses should be limited to small-scale retail and professional office space, with future additions of attached or multi-tenant space.
Fraser said maintaining the pedestrian environment and promoting public or off-street parking are keys to the redevelopment plan.
And larger retail, service and industrial uses that utilize free-standing structures and off-street parking should remain north of SR 100.
According to Fraser, existing auto services, home supply and garden supply establishments should be directed to areas north of SR 100 and should not be permitted to encroach further into the downtown area south of SR 100.
Fraser suggested council members seek input from business owners because they will be the most impacted by the plan.
To get a visual of a plan, Fraser suggested council members visit communities that have successful plans in place, such as Gainesville, Mount Dora and Fernandina Beach.
The Community Redevelopment Agency will meet every January to look at the budget and decide what projects should be done and what projects will be scheduled for the next year.
In June, funding priorities will be identified and a five-year capital improvement plan established.

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