Entertainment District one step closer - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Entertainment District one step closer

June 13, 2007

Albany - Albany city commissioners will soon vote on Riverfront District zoning for downtown Albany. The district will focus on regional tourism and provide a mix of retail, residential and entertainment opportunities.

It's something downtown business owners have been wanting for a while. "It really would help the business downtown," said San Joe's Owner, Ramiro Alvarez.

A Riverfront district that would bring in entertainment to Downtown, including establishments like bars, which would bring more pedestrian traffic downtown. The lunch menu at San Joe's is the most popular at San Joe's because there's a lunch crowd to eat here during the day, but after 5PM, downtown basically shuts down, sending the dinner crowd elsewhere.

"It will give us a lot of ability to do the kinds of things we want to do downtown," said Assistant City Manager James Taylor.  He says he has a draft of the proposed ordinance and hopes to have it in commissioners hands to vote on in July.

The new zone would eliminate the 1,000 ft. rule for bars, but wouldn't be a free for all in adult entertainment. "It says that if things are right," said Taylor, "if it supports the economic development, doesn't have an adverse impact, you can put a bar next to a bar." That means no exotic clubs, or adult film and book stores. Plus there will be noise restrictions, and current rules in place as to how far bars need to be away from churches and schools will still be in effect.

Taylor said, "We want to have an entertainment area, a family friendly area, we want to include both East and West banks of the river and we want to make the river the center."

The district would be bordered by Residence Alley to the North, Radium Springs Road to the East, Jefferson Street to the West, and Mercer Alley to the South. But whatever commissioners consider, Alvarez hopes they'll consider saying yes. He said, "I've got my fingers crossed, hopefully it will." Keeping his business open. Day, and night.

Anytime there is a zoning change, public hearings must be held. Those have not been scheduled.

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