• Cocoa Beach business owners ready for streetscape improvements


    COCOA BEACH, Fla. - Cocoa Beach has plans to spend $3 million on a streetscape project to improve the area's appearance and make it more pedestrian-friendly.
    City officials said one thing residents will immediately notice will be the five-block-long walk that runs from the beach to Cedar Avenue. Instead of the of concrete or brick walks, there will be new brick pavers.
    Business owners in downtown told Channel 9's Jeff Deal that they are looking forward to a change.
    "They're going to change this whole area into a courtyard," said business owner Rick Preece, pointing out an area outside his shop.
    Preece said the area has foot traffic, with people visiting the beach. But he said getting to the downtown businesses isn't always easy.
    "The most common complaint we have is that it's tired, buildings are past their prime," said City Manager Bob Majka.
    Majka said the streetscape project will improve the walkability of downtown along Minutemen Causeway and will improve the landscaping in the area.
    Along with the brick pavers, there will be planters, benches and improved crosswalks.
    Plans even include an improved stormwater-runoff system that will filter water to help protect the lagoon.
    Officials believe if the downtown area looks nicer, and the city invests money, more businesses will  invest in downtown, too.
    "Downtown needs to have a sense of place. There need to be things for people to come and do in downtown," said Majka.
    The city hopes the improvements will bring more people to live in downtown and bring in more visitors.
    Business owners said they are excited about the changes and they hope it works.
    "More people will come here, enjoy the beach, spend money and have fun," said Preece.
    About half the money for the project is coming from a state grant; the city is paying the rest.
    The city hopes to start the project by the end of this year and finish up early next year.

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