Smyrna City Council will consider Monday expanding an open-container area along the Chattahoochee River in a bid to attract businesses to an upcoming mixed-use development.
Smyrna created its first “restaurant district,” in which people are allowed to consume alcoholic drinks on-the-go, in its downtown in February 2018. It added three new districts in November of that year: the Belmont shopping center, the Jonquil shopping center and the Riverview Landing development along the Chattahoochee River.
The first phase of the Riverview Landing development — dubbed “the Eddy” — opened in 2019. It includes 310 units of multifamily housing, a 6-acre riverside park with a kayak launch, an amphitheater and three businesses: a coffeeshop, brewery and barbecue restaurant.
The second phase broke ground in July and will likely open next year, according to Chuck Young, executive vice president of development at Prestwick Properties, which is building the multifamily and retail portions of the Riverview Landing.
Phase II — “the Drift” — will include another 270 multifamily units and additional retail. According to the website of Ardent, Riverview Landing’s master developer, a “regional homebuilder” is under contract to purchase land for townhomes.
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 not larger than 16 ounces and mandating 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.
“To have that freedom to experience the river and the overlook decks in the park and know that you’re allowed to have a beverage with you, that’s been really well received,” Young said.
Smyrna Councilman Lewis Wheaton, whose district includes Riverview Landing, agreed.
“This is something businesses like and (that) residents like as well down here,” he said. “One of the cool things about this area being in a more scenic part of town down by the riverfront is the ability to actually get outside, be able to walk around … (and) really stroll along the river, take advantage of the parks, take advantage of the outdoor facilities that we have here.”
According to city documents, the expansion of the open-container area will “enable the development to attract additional destination based retailers and restaurants to the area” — something Prestwick has struggled to do given the pandemic, Young said.
Wheaton said the expansion of the open container district wouldn’t turn the area into New Orleans’ Bourbon Street, regarded by many as a national symbol of hedonism.
“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.”