Riverfront District may soon be a reality - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Riverfront District may soon be a reality

Harvest Moon owner, Bo Henry Harvest Moon owner, Bo Henry

September 4, 2007

Albany -- City commissioners tentatively approved the zone today, which will incorporate most of downtown on both the East and West sides of the River.

Restaurant Owner Bo Henry and his business, Harvest Moon, have been a staple of downtown Albany for six years.  It's one of the few places folks come to after dark.  But that could soon change with the new Riverfront District plans.

"It's definitely a step in the right direction," he said.  "we've been asking for it and it finally looks like it's going to come through."

For six years, Henry has asked the city commission to look at a district that would do away with the 1,000 foot rule between bars. That way, other business owners would be attracted to the area, bringing in more traffic to Henry's restaurant. "I'm glad to see the city looking out for the best interest of downtown and the city of Albany."

And while those best interests do away with the proximity rule between bars, it's not a free for all alcohol call. As a matter of fact, the draft of the zone prohibits the establishment of bars and clubs on Front Street, because it's across from a park, and the Riverfront District isn't just for adults. 

"We would like to keep that as family-friendly as we can," said Assistant City Manager James Taylor.

Also, no X-rated businesses like adult books stores, strip clubs or video stores would be allowed in the district, and strict noise ordinances would be in place.

Because the purpose of a clearly defined Riverfront district isn't to scare folks away, but to encourage more economic development.

Henry is just happy the city is working to make the River and downtown Albany the focal point of the community. "Anything to better downtown or the city of Albany should be a priority of the commission, and I guess it was this time, so that's great."

By clearly defining a Riverfront Zone, commissioners will also be able to ask voters to approve the Redevelopment Powers Authority, which will provide the city with an economic development engine that will pump money into infrastructure and attract more businesses.

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