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Vote on open-drinks rules for Little Rock's River Market set

by Rachel Herzog | July 22, 2019 at 7:18 a.m.
FILE — The 300 block of President Clinton Avenue is shown in this file photo.

Legislation that would allow people to carry open containers of alcoholic beverages in part of Little Rock's River Market district on weekends and holidays will go before the city Board of Directors on Tuesday.

Little Rock is one of several Arkansas cities that are considering establishing "entertainment districts" after the passage of a state law that allows municipalities to authorize such districts in commercially zoned areas.

Act 812, sponsored by Sen. Trent Garner (R-El Dorado) earlier this year, gives cities the authority to set reasonable standards for the regulation of alcohol possession within such districts.

In Little Rock, the district would be known as the River Market Entertainment District and would encompass all public places 30 feet from each side of the centerline of:

• The 300 to 600 blocks of President Clinton Avenue

• The 100 block of North Rock Street

• The 100 block of North Commerce Street

People would be able to consume beer, wine and mixed drinks from open containers throughout the district on Fridays from 5 p.m. to midnight, Saturdays from 8 a.m. to midnight, and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Open containers also would be allowed on New Year's Eve, New Year's Day, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, the Fourth of July and Christmas Eve.

Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. said the city worked to get the state law allowing such districts passed and that he believed it would enhance the quality of life in Arkansas' capital city.

"I think with any mid-size or large major city in the United States the downtown area has a flavor to it. This will be Little Rock's opportunity to show our flavor," Scott said. "There's no reason why citizens should have to leave to Memphis, New Orleans or Nashville for entertainment when it could be right here in their own downtown."

He said it is possible the River Market zone could be one of more in the city, mentioning the South Main area if the community wanted it.

Gretchen Hall, president and CEO of the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the CVB reviewed rules, regulations and ordinances for such districts in two Alabama cities, Huntsville and Tuscaloosa.

On June 20, Mountain Home became the first Arkansas city to pass an entertainment district ordinance. The eight-block district will open Wednesday. El Dorado passed an entertainment district ordinance Thursday.

Hot Springs, Texarkana, Fayetteville and Bentonville are also working on or considering establishing entertainment districts.

The Little Rock city board is scheduled to vote on two ordinances Tuesday: one that would allow for entertainment districts to be established in Little Rock, and the other outlining the regulations for the River Market Entertainment District.

Scott said he wanted to have Little Rock's entertainment district operational as soon as possible if the ordinances are passed. He said the city has developed a marketing plan to make residents aware of the new rules, if passed.

Metro on 07/22/2019

Print Headline: Vote on open-drinks rules for Little Rock's River Market set

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