Talk of New Entertainment District in Old Cloverdale

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By Heather VacLav

The downtown entertainment district is doing wonders for local businesses and certainly keeps the city's nightlife busy, and now there is talk of adding a second entertainment district to Old Cloverdale.

After the state legislature passed the entertainment district law, Montgomery qualified for two entertainment districts. With the first downtown, now the focus is being shifted to Midtown, changing the atmosphere at businesses, restaurants and bars in Old Cloverdale.

Montgomery City Councilman Arch Lee is working with the Cloverdale neighborhood associations to see if businesses and residents support the proposed entertainment district.

The Cloverdale Idlewild Association approved the proposed district and now it’s up to the Old Cloverdale Association to decide whether or not the project could move forward.

Todd Kirk, Mayor of the Old Cloverdale Association says the general gist is for people to eat dinner in Old Cloverdale, and then have the ability to carry their drink to a play at the Cloverdale Playhouse or movie at the Capri Theatre.

“They could leave the restaurant with a cocktail, in a plastic cup, take their time walking down to the playhouse, finish their drink on the way, and not be breaking the law,” Kirk said.

If passed, the Old Cloverdale entertainment district would be similar to the district in downtown Montgomery. Patrons must purchase alcoholic beverages from a business in the district, they can walk outside with the drink, but cannot carry it into another business.

Businesses like El Rey and its sister bar Leroy say both would benefit greatly from the entertainment district.

“It would be much more convenient for our customers to walk from one establishment to another and don’t have to rush or leave their drink at the bar,” said El Rey and Leroy General Manager Jeremy Lunsford.

However, Alabama’s law is specific about requirements for entertainment districts.

“The restrictions are, it’s a quarter mile by a quarter mile, it can be irregular shaped, but you also have to have four [liquor] licensees within that area to qualify, and this area obviously does,” Lee said.

The district would stretch from the Old Cloverdale Playhouse at the intersection of Fairview and Cloverdale roads, down Fairview to the 1048 Bar, and would also include the adjacent area on Woodley surrounding Jubilee Seafood.

“I don't think its going to change that much around here,” Kirk said. “I've had some calls, some emails about turning this into another French Quarter, that’s certainly not our intention.”

For now, the intention is educating the neighborhood, to see when or if this project will move forward. If the Old Cloverdale Association supports it at its meeting next month, then it will go to a vote at city council. Lee says people could be walking around with open containers by the first of the year.

The Old Cloverdale Association will be discussing the district and voting at its meeting October 15th, at 7:00 p.m. inside Smith Hall at Huntingdon College.

 



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