A plan to establish a new entertainment district in downtown Villa Rica will be placed before the City Council next month.
The district is planned to be like those that currently exist in other Georgia towns, and city staff hopes it will also help public safety in the time of pandemic.
The staff is expected to present the plan during the council meeting on Oct. 13.
If approved by the City Council, the entertainment district would be created on the north side of the Norfolk Southern Railway tracks between North Avenue and North Carroll Road.
The idea was first presented in January during a meeting of the Downtown Development Authority.
Janet Chumley, manager of the city’s Main Street Program, said that the city’s restaurants support the idea.
“I think that’s a game changer for us,” she told the Authority members. “It specifically allows restaurants potentially to make more revenue.”
Three establishments downtown would specifically benefit from the ordinance creating the entertainment district: Hixtown Brewing Co., Los Cowboys and Uncorked.
The ordinance would allow patrons of those establishments to walk up and down the street with alcohol contained within a clear plastic cup. Currently, patrons must be served alcohol inside the establishments and must remain inside the building to consume their drinks.
The idea was brought forth before the COVID-19 pandemic, which prompted government leaders to mandate policies designed to curb the spread of the virus, including social gathering.
The proposal that is expected to be presented next month to the council includes a report that says the new district may help enhance public health.
Planners say the district would allow “the dispersement of crowds into designated areas that may enhance protection from the spread of COVID-19, influenza, and other seasonal maladies.”
The plan is modeled after one that was drafted for the city of Woodstock.
“Downtown business owners on the north side of the railroad tracks will benefit from having a designated open-container district that will enhance social distancing and allow patrons to consume alcoholic beverages purchased within the District,” says the report to the council.
During the January DDA meeting, Chumley pointed out that none of the establishments within the proposed Villa Rica entertainment district are open later than 10 p.m.
She also noted that the city’s police chief, Michael Mansour, supports the plan, adding that city police would be present to discourage any trouble.