The Smyrna City Council unanimously approved the expansion of an open container district along the Chattahoochee River this week in a bid to attract businesses to a forthcoming mixed-use development.
The first phase of that development, Riverview Landing, was completed last year. But the second phase will triple the amount of retail space and almost double the number of mixed-use residential units.
Interim city administrator Joe Bennett said Riverview Landing “represents a future center of commerce and pedestrian activity,” adding that expansion of the open container district — known as a “restaurant district” in city government parlance — would help it realize its potential.
Chuck Young, executive vice president of Prestwick Properties, the developer handling the residential and mixed-use portions of Riverview Landing, said the ability to take an alcoholic drink to-go in the existing portion of Riverview has been a hit.
“All the restaurants, breweries, everyone else have benefited greatly from the restaurant district,” he said. “Especially during COVID, it’s been fantastic — the vibe out there is great, retail is doing well and we just want to be able to offer the same benefits to future retailers we try to attract as we come out of COVID.”
When the city created the first open-container district, it also established a set of rules that govern them. Among those rules are a one-drink limit per person when outside a business, requiring that the drinks be in paper or plastic cups no larger than 16 ounces and a mandate that drinks be purchased from a business within the district, preventing someone from bringing their own drinks from home.
Hours for drinking outside businesses in the districts are 11 a.m. to midnight.
Speaking before the meeting, Councilman Lewis Wheaton said the idea was not to turn parts of Smyrna into New Orleans’ Bourbon Street.
“No part of the city wants to turn into that, that’s definitely not the goal here. … I think we’ll be able to manage that with the businesses that we have coming in. They’re going to be good partners for the city, I totally envision.”