KANNAPOLIS, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) — Could downtown Kannapolis become the next Savannah? That’s what some business owners are hoping for with the city’s new social district, which allows people to walk around with open-container alcohol within a defined boundary.
Earlier this month, Governor Roy Cooper signed House Bill 890 into law. It gives cities and counties permission to create their own social districts to increase foot traffic for local businesses. Kannapolis city leaders say they have been trying to enact this for more than a year.
“We’ve created all these people-places downtown, all these wide sidewalks and plazas and places for people to gather,” said City Manager Mike Legg. “You can have somebody buy a beer at Old Armor, and they couldn’t walk across the street to an area that we’ve created for people to gather. This law allows them to do that.”
In Kannapolis, the new social district consists mainly of the downtown core; Specifically, portions of West Avenue, Oak Avenue, Vance Street, Laureate Way, Cannon Baller Way, West B Street, and Main Street.
“It allows the alcohol-selling establishments downtown to expand their business footprint, and that’s good for commerce. And it’s good for creating a lively downtown, really,” said Legg.
Old Armor Beer Company in downtown Kannapolis has been working with the city to push for this change.
“If you do it the right way, just like Savannah and Vegas, they flourish out of that stuff. So, why can’t a small town do it?” said Head Brewer Stephan Perrine.
Not everyone in Kannapolis is completely sold on the idea, however.
“I personally don’t think that’s such a good idea,” said Kannapolis resident Sue Sanford. “Like everything, it gets abused and then I’m afraid it will get kind of out of hand.”
Rules and regulations are in place to keep the fun under control. For example, people can only walk around with alcohol purchased from an ABC-licensed business within the social district. The drinks must be consumed in designated cups with labels. Drinks must be thrown away before stepping out of the social district, and can only be consumed between the hours of 10 a.m. – midnight on Mondays thru Saturdays, and noon – midnight on Sundays.
“We’re not a rowdy town. Hopefully the rowdy crowd doesn’t come in here, but if they do and they don’t understand the rules, they’ll learn real quick from KPD,” said Perinne.
Signs will be posted in downtown Kannapolis within the next few days that explain the rules and boundaries of the social district. The city says they’ll likely have an increased police presence in the beginning to ensure everything goes smoothly, but then will scale it back down.