A map showing the proposed Entertainment District in downtown Fayetteville in blue.

Taking an opportunity to build towards their vision for a more walkable downtown, the city of Fayetteville approved an amendment to their alcohol ordinance to allow outdoor consumption at Pinewood Forest and downtown around the courthouse square.

The amendment creates Entertainment Districts where the public can purchase alcohol from a licensed location in a city-approved container and drink it outside within the District. In the case of Pinewood Forest, the District encompasses the whole development.

Businesses and private property owners within the Entertainment Districts do not have to allow alcohol consumption on their premises and can post a ‘no alcohol allowed’ sign to make their intentions clear.

The container would typically be a clear plastic cup up to 16 oz. with a logo of Main Street Fayetteville or Pinewood Forest on it.

Jamie Wyatt spoke on behalf of the Fayetteville Downtown Development Authority.

“It will make downtown more a destination, and it will draw customers and increase business opportunities to existing businesses,” she said. “It will make Fayetteville more competitive when we’re trying to recruit businesses for our live-work-play vision.”

Glenn Gresham, owner of Gremlin Growlers and a member of the Main Street board, shared his support for the measure.

“This is moving towards the great vision that we’ve laid out for the future of Fayetteville, and it will increase the utility of our Downtown Historic District,” he said. “It also makes us more appealing to both current residents and future residents. It gives us room to grow with the vision we’ve already laid out.”

Mayor Ed Johnson shared some skepticism that the amendment was not necessary just yet.

“We have not seen the retail businesses to come that’s going to be selling alcohol,” he said. “However, I recognize that the time has come that we need to be a little bit more open minded about our desire to attract more people to the downtown area. This may be a step in that direction.”

He also expressed concern over potential negative unintended consequences and loopholes, but felt confident that staff will be monitoring developments closely.

Julie Brown, Senior Planner for the city, assured that staff has worked with community groups AVPride and Drug Free Fayette to alleviate concerns that the change could make it easier for underage residents to get alcoholic beverages. Brown noted that they spoke with four other cities that allow open container, and none of the four reported an increase in underage consumption.

The amendment also allows for event centers and movie theaters to obtain a license to sell alcoholic beverages for on-site consumption if no more than 25 percent of their gross sales come from alcohol.