Alpena to consider social district expansion

ALPENA — The Alpena Municipal Council will consider the expansion of the social district that could include businesses such as Latitude’s Tavern, Players Pub and Grub, the Sports Page Lounge, and The Nest.

The Alpena Downtown Development Authority expanded its district’s boundaries late last year and some of the businesses in the new territories want to be included in the social district.

A social district provides a designated public space where customers may take alcoholic beverages purchased from a licensed bar or restaurant located within the social district and enjoy them together with customers who purchase drinks from other bars and restaurants in the social district.

They were legalized in Michigan to help businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic when many businesses couldn’t offer indoor dining. Alpena’s social district began in the summer of 2021.

Anne Gentry, DDA executive director, said the proposed expansion of the social district would run similarly to the district DDA expansion. She said it would run down Chisholm Street to the George Washington Bridge and down 2nd Avenue to the Old Polish Corner Restaurant at the corner of 2nd Avenue and Lake Street.

The social district expansion, if approved by council, would also encompass the entire bi-path around the Thunder Bay River, which includes Lamarre Park, the entire Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Trail, and Rotary Island Park.

Gentry said the move would open up the possibility of hosting events in that region of the city, which hasn’t enjoyed the same benefits as the heart of the downtown near Culligan Plaza until the DDA district expansion became a reality.

“We haven’t had any issues with the social district since it began and it is primarily used during events, so it is a nice option to have,” she said. “If businesses want to do it, it just makes sense to expand it.

If council approves the social district expansion, Gentry said the new map would be sent to the state for approval and the businesses can apply for their needed licenses. She said she is hopeful the process will be completed and the social district in the expansion area operating by Memorial Day.

The council meets at 6 p.m. tonight in the Council Chamber upstairs at City Hall.

This meeting is open to the public and public comment is welcome.


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