Should Open Containers be Allowed on Downtown Grand Rapids Streets? [POLL]
Recently I was outside of a bar near Van Andel Arena downtown Grand Rapids. A gentleman stepped outside, ready to cross the street, holding what appeared to be a vodka cranberry.
He must have been getting some real looks, because he inquired, "Oh, is it not cool to take drinks with you here?"
Currently there are no open container districts downtown Grand Rapids. But should that change?
A recent article in MiBiz explores the issue:
Despite many cities around the country loosening restrictions on open containers in certain districts with a heavy concentration of pubs, local bar owners and other stakeholders say there’s continued resistance to the idea in West Michigan-- not to mention it’s illegal under current state law."
MiBiz explains that under Michigan laws, a city government is prohibited from creating a district where open containers are permissible.
Mark Sellers, owner of Barfly Ventures LLC, which operates HopCat, Stella’s, Grand Rapids Brewing Co. and The Waldron Public House, says he's visited multiple cities where on weekends, patrons travel from bar to bar with their drinks. He's brought up a similar idea for the Ionia Street corridor, but says it hasn't gotten anywhere.
Sellers told MiBiz,
“People use the argument that we have to protect the kids. It’s a very powerful argument and the politicians run terrified. It takes a lot of pressure and lobbying. It would be great in a controlled way. Lots of places do it in a controlled manner.”
MiBiz cites an article from the Wall Street Journal, which notes the that "the trend of open container districts has taken off in cities around the country".
Savannah, Georgia is one of these cities. According to the Savannah.com, open containers of alcohol in plastic,16-ounce cups, are permitted in public in the city's Historic District:
Rest assured, as long as you wander the streets of the Historic District, you can safely bet you’ll be allowed, and even emboldened, to explore the sights while carrying a little something Southern to sip and savor."
The Wall Street Journal report notes that developers are pushing for open container districts to promote economic growth in the area.
Not everyone is onboard with open container districts in Grand Rapids.
Jackson VanDyke, co-owner of GR's Harmony Brewing and offshoot Harmony Hall told MiBiz he's worried about over-consumption of alcohol and that sales could be affected if patrons have less reasons to stay in one place,
“I don’t see a benefit. If I was walking from New Holland Brewing to Harmony Hall, it would be fine to walk a block without a drink. I don’t see how it would add to my experience.”
What do you think? Should patrons in downtown GR be allowed go from bar to bar carrying a drink?