CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — The Charlotte City Council may vote on Monday to approve a social district in Plaza Midwood, the city’s first social district.
The proposal would allow customers of legal drinking age to walk freely in a designated area with alcohol in hand. The concept of a social district started during the COVID-19 pandemic. Gov. Cooper passed a law in 2021, allowing social districts in North Carolina.
While Charlotte City Council passed social districts overall in August 2022, it did not launch an application process until March 2023.
Members of the Plaza Midwood neighborhood and merchant’s associations say they’ve worked for more than two and a half years to connect the area as a social district. The proposed district runs about a mile down Central Avenue, stretching from Louise Avenue to Morningside Drive.
Some of the bars and restaurants on side streets would be included in the boundary as well.
The application also provides proposed solutions to potential issues – such as noise complaints and trash. Management of the district would fall to a committee made up of members of the merchant’s association and surrounding neighborhood associations.
The district would operate from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
“This process has been very rigorous. It ensures community awareness and buy-in. It ensures that there is a solid management plan and organized and with enough financial ability to sustain it and manage it, which Plaza Midwood merchants are ready to do,” said Jason Michel with the Plaza Midwood Merchants Association.
The district’s proposal includes a map of the designated drinking area, the use of reusable cups, signage, and protocol.
Citizens got to tell city leaders what they think about the plan last month. Council member Tariq Bokhari says it’s a big step. “While we are making some progress on the council agenda tonight, we are going to get the Plaza Midwood public hearing, which is the major step that we have been waiting for,” he said. “But it does beg the question, ‘Why is it taking so long?’”
Bokhari has been advocating for social districts since the concept was first introduced in Charlotte. He said they not only have the capability of bringing communities together but also boost the local economy.
A city spokesperson told Queen City News they received pre-applications from areas like South End and NoDa. There are currently 32 other social districts registered within the state.