LOWELL, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — There could soon be another place to drink in public in Gaston County. Lowell city leaders are considering adopting a social district, but there are petitions circulating against the effort.
If the city council passes the social districts, customers who purchase alcohol from designated restaurants or bars would be allowed to leave with special cups and walk around within the boundary of the district.
“We have seen that others have utilized it for more restaurants to come in their downtown,” City Manager Scott Attaway said. “We thought this might be a good tool. The Gaston Business Association hosted a session that gave us a lot of information on this, and since that point forward, we’ve been looking at maybe this is a possibility for Lowell, maybe it’s not.”
Downtown Lowell has only one establishment that serves alcohol within the proposed boundaries of the social district. Miami Fusion Cafe just opened in September and the restaurant has applied for a license to serve beer and wine.
Jordan Synder, Miami Fusion’s head chef, says he is familiar with social districts but does not see downtown Lowell as a place for bar hopping right now.
“I think that in general social districts would improve like tourism and general revenue for the city, but I don’t see a lot of room for a lot of bars around here,” Synder said.
City leaders say a social district could bring more businesses to the city.
“We’ve heard from our neighbors over in Cramerton that after the first month that they opened their (social district), businesses were seeing about a 15 to 20 percent increase in their revenue,” Attaway said. “In Lowell, we’re looking to fill some blank storefronts, and really just showed a little bit of synergy going on in the downtown.”
Cramerton launched its district in July, and Gastonia did so in April.
Lowell hosted an information session Thursday afternoon to answer questions from citizens about how the public drinking would work.
“You could maybe go to another store and shop or go to a concert downtown, things like that during designated hours,” Attaway said.
The proposed boundaries run along parts of Main Street and First and Second streets.
Lowell City Council has the final say on whether the city adopts a social district. Council votes on Tuesday, Oct. 10.