HOMEWOOD, Ala. (WIAT) — In an effort to support local businesses, Homewood City Council members will soon consider creating an entertainment district downtown.
The idea was discussed during Monday night’s Homewood Public Safety Committee Meeting.
“Folks can take a drink and walk around downtown once we pass this, do some window shopping, just sort of stroll throughout,” said City Councilwoman Jennifer Andress.
If approved, the district would allow patrons to purchase an alcoholic beverage from a licensed business and then carry the drink off premises with certain restrictions: the beverage must be in a branded cup, and individuals are not able to leave the defined district boundary.
So far, leaders have not discussed where those boundaries might be in downtown Homewood. City councilors will also have to determine the times the rules are in effect.
Right now, Andress said the plan is to begin with a district downtown. Edgewood will also be considered.
State lawmakers would have to approve creating more than two entertainment districts, something that has been done for other municipalities.
“We know for sure we are doing downtown. The question is: do we also do Edgewood? And then we also have west Homewood that we would include by local act no later than next Spring,” Andress said.
After dealing with challenges over the past 18 months, restaurant owners hope the idea comes to fruition.
“I think it will draw a lot more people here. If someone knows they can come to this downtown area, and they can just park and stay all day. They can come have lunch, grab a drink, take their drink around, visit the local shops. I think everyone will benefit from it,” said Hal Craig, who runs Tostadas in Homewood.
Craig shares a wide open plaza with other restaurants. Owners have envisioned using the outdoor space as a place that neighbors can gather safely.
“You have everybody mingling together as opposed to crowded inside. I think it is timely now with the things going on with COVID and what we have dealt with as far as social distancing,” said Dave Horn, the owner of SoHo Social in Homewood.
Horn has experience with entertainment districts. He also owns The Ridge in Vestavia Hills. The establishment is part of the recently created Rocky Ridge Entertainment District.
“The retailers over there that have taken advantage when we’ve had events they’ve participated in it and sort of invited the people who are out at the party into their shops, I think it has worked out well,” said Horn.
According to Councilor Andress, the full Homewood City Council should have an opportunity to hear and vote on the measure by the end of the month. She expects the item to pass.
“Our city hall plaza has really opened up to where we have a lot of families coming down, a lot of folks coming down to socialize, spend some time outdoors, spread out, and we want to capitalize on that and sort of help the businesses down here do anything we can to sort of keep them lively,” said Andress.
Andress said she’s talked with leaders in other cities where districts have been successful, like Mountain Brook, Birmingham and Vestavia Hills.