DESTIN — Officials are eyeing the potential purchase of a vacant parcel that would help expand the city's pay-to-park program.

The Destin City Council on Monday directed its staff to talk with the owner of the property and provide an update on the asking price at the Oct. 1 council meeting.

The roughly half-acre parcel is at 108 Sibert Ave. and is surrounded by city-owned property.

The parcel is bounded on the northwest by city right of way (Sibert Avenue), on the southwest by the 51-space Zerbe Street pay-to-park lot, on the southeast by the Destin Community Center and on the northeast by a pay-to-park lot that might open by mid-October.

The staff has been talking for several years with Niceville resident Wilbur Englestad, who owns the property at 108 Sibert Ave., about possibly buying the parcel. Like the lot to the northeast, Englestad's parcel has room for 44 parking spaces.

Englestad at one point wanted $1 million for the property, but “has ratcheted (the asking price) down considerably since then,” Deputy City Manager Steve Schmidt said at Monday’s council meeting.

The parcel currently is for sale for $400,000.

In August 2017, a city-hired appraiser appraised the parcel at $250,000, and an appraisal provided in April by the seller’s representative concluded a value of $425,000, according to city information.

“Acquisition of the property would expand the size and efficiency of harbor area parking, and gives the city a stronger position in any public-private partnership negotiations for use of the property for a (pay-to-park) parking garage,” Schmidt said in a report to the council.

“It’s clear: That’s a piece of property we need to probably acquire,” Councilman Parker Destin said of Englestad's parcel.

Other council members said they also are interested in buying the parcel as long as the price is about $250,000.

The potential purchase would be paid for with money from the city’s unreserved funds, city spokesman Doug Rainer said.

City officials began their pay-to-park pilot program in May 2017 at the city’s 146-space lot on Marler Street. The charge is $1 for the first hour and 50 cents for each additional hour.

As of Thursday, the city had collected $44,707 in parking fees and $12,084 in parking citation fees from people using the Marler Street and Zerbe Street pay-to-park lots.

Revenue from the fees is intended to be used to improve and expand the pay-to-park program.