The Fort Smith Board of Directors approved an ordinance to allow for a permanent entertainment district at Chaffee Crossing during its regular meeting Tuesday (Aug. 4). The ordinance passed 6-1 with Director Robyn Dawson voting against the permanent designation.
The ordinance changes the a “temporary” entertainment district at The HUB at Chaffee Crossing established when the board adopted an ordinance on temporary entertainment districts March 17 to a permanent one.
“After working on layouts within and outside the restaurant and determining future marketing and sales plans, we feel that The HUB, its occupants and patrons would benefit from a Permanent Entertainment District Designation,” said Rod Coleman with ERC Holdings, the developers of The HUB at Chaffee Crossing. “Our plans include outside patio dining and quarterly block parties for the residents of The HUB and Providence Addition, and this would facilitate these activities while not having to apply 45 days in advance every month or so.”
Coleman said the change would give owners, tenants and visitors to Revel at The HUB a “unique venue to enjoy.”
As long as the boundaries of the district are clearly marked and other rules and regulations are followed, the ordinance would allow that anyone buying alcoholic beverages at establishments in the entertainment district could take those beverages with them and “wander about the property within the boundaries of the district,” said Deputy City Administrator Jeff Dingman in a memo attached to the proposed ordinance.
Dawson said she had no objection to a temporary entertainment designation that allows for organizers to request a Special Event Permit in order for the entertainment district to be open. She said concerns had been brought to her about the lack of extra planning and policing that comes with a special event, so she could not support the permanent designation. Other directors said they believed this was a way to bring the community together.
“We always talk about bringing people together so they can be part of that community, and I think the intent is not by any means to create a beer garden at The HUB. This is about promoting a sense of community, having a place where you can come listen to some music, have a glass of wine, go out on some lawn or maybe a courtyard. I think this is a good thing, and it does promote a lot of things we have been looking for regarding walkability in our city,” said Director Keith Lau.
The 2019 Arkansas General Assembly adopted Act 812, which makes it lawful for cities to designate “entertainment districts” where patrons can walk outside a bar or restaurant with an open container of alcohol for public consumption. The act specifically allows for the consumption of alcohol in public when it is consumed within the parameters of a designated entertainment district. Though the act allows for public consumption of alcohol outdoors in these districts, it does not “relax or supersede” laws or regulations dealing with alcohol including public intoxication or minor in possession of alcohol.
If approved as proposed, the Downtown Springdale Outdoor Dining District, which runs along Emma Avenue, between Shiloh and Water streets, and includes several adjacent blocks, between Grove and Emma avenues and Meadow and Johnson avenues, would be open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fayetteville has a similar district that opened July 22.