DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Many local businesses in downtown Durham are pushing for a social district to open-carry alcohol.

The plan is proposed by Downtown Durham Inc. and is called “The Bullpen.”

If approved by the city, people could soon get a drink and walk around downtown within the social district lines, stretching from around the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, main street and all the way up to north of Greer Street.

(City of Durham)

“I think it would be very beneficial for them to be able to have the option of not just being inside or seated outside at the few tables that we have,” Rashanda Mason, owner of The Slush bar said.

Roberto Copa Matos, the co-owner of Copa Restaurant, hopes the district would bring more people to the heart of the city after Covid’s long-term impacts on the hospitality industry.

“To reach that stability in the market, people coming out regularly, not in spurts or particular times of the year,” Copa Matos said.

The social district would allow drinks from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day. 

“The idea of this causing crazy drunkenness in the streets until all hours in the morning, well no. That’s not legal, that’s not what the thing is,” Shannon Healey, owner of Alley Twenty Six Bar, said. “We want downtown Durham to be clean and safe.”

Thursday afternoon, city councilmembers stressed safety of the project and concerns about uniform enforcement for open carry laws citywide. In response, police chief Patrice Andrews said her team is focused mainly on violent crime, not open-containers.

“My officers do not approach people with open containers and enforce,” Andrews said. “There has to be some sort of event that occurs that would spark a 911 call.”

Other major cities like Raleigh, Greensboro and Greenville have set up their own social districts

A decision could come as soon as the October 17 city council meeting.