RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Raleigh could be the next North Carolina city to introduce social districts, which are designated areas that would allow take-out alcohol sales — in turn allowing people to carry and drink on the sidewalk.
While plans are still in the early phase, the Downtown Raleigh Alliance presented its ideas this week to the city’s economic development committee.
The plan outlines a pilot social district starting on Fayetteville Street, with options radiating out around Moore Square and potentially the Warehouse District.
Both are spots with businesses hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“If we experimented with this with a pilot program, what if we did it in the parts of downtown that have been economically most affected,” said Bill King, CEO of the Downtown Raleigh Alliance.
Since state leaders passed legislation last year allowing the creation of social districts, other North Carolina cities, like Greensboro, have put their own version of social districts in place this year.
The Downtown Raleigh Alliance surveyed 734 people about the idea, with 74 percent of them indicating “support or generally support” for creating a social district.
“I think that’s great,” Raleigh resident Mike Belmares said. “Anything that encourages people to come down here. Start walking around, get to know your downtown, get to know your city.”
Still, there are plenty of logistics to put together before city council members re-evaluate the plans next month on issues that include enforcement, the type of takeout cups, and hours within the district.
The general manager at Short Walk Wines, James Goertz, said he welcomes the idea of a social district.
“I think that it’ll get people walking around,” Goertz said. “It will get people taking drinks to go. Especially would be great for us as a bottle shop.”