City of Harrison, Ark. adopts entertainment district proposal

The Harrison, Ark. city council officially adopted an ordinance for an entertainment district in its downtown area.
Published: Nov. 23, 2022 at 3:08 PM CST
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HARRISON, Ark. (KY3) - The Harrison, Ark. city council officially adopted an ordinance for an entertainment district in its downtown area.

The entertainment district will allow for open alcohol containers between different businesses that opt into the district guidelines. Several rules are already in place with the ordinance:

- only beer and wine will be allowed to travel from business to business

- alcoholic beverages have to be kept in a designated container that can only be purchased at participating businesses with a liquor license

- beverages can only be carried within a designated area around the square that excludes the courthouse lawn and old federal building

-beverage transport will only be allowed during set hours on certain days of the week.

With the Harrison City Hall and Boone County courthouse moving locations away from downtown, many business owners have been enthused by the news of the district’s approval.

“I’m super excited. I think it’s just the first step on making the square a place people want to come, a destination,” said Joy Kuykendall, owner of Town House Cafe in downtown Harrison.

Multiple businesses, like Town House, have already started to take steps to better incorporate with the new entertainment district.

“Right now, we’re open Monday to Saturday, 7 a.m. - 2 p.m., but we will be applying for our liquor license so people can have mimosas,” said Kuykendall. “From there, we’re looking to open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings.”

The district, headed by Explore Harrison, is hopeful of getting it up and running as soon as possible but says it wants to “check off all the boxes” before moving forward.

“Yeah, the first step is to establish our committee, and that committee, that oversight committee that’s written into the ordinance,” said Matt Bell with Explore Harrison. “Put those individuals together and begin the process of planning. We’re really trying to be careful for it, be mindful of the community and our downtown, and try to do it the right way.”

Bell says the future of downtown is a concern that has grown for community members in recent years, even since the proposal was Initially shot down by a narrow margin by the city council in 2018.

“I think what I want people to know more than anything is that we’re doing this for our downtown. We really want to see our downtown succeed,” said Bell.

Explore Harrison, and the oversight committee will be responsible for business applications for the entertainment district and rule adjustments that may be needed.

“We want to have a lot of things included in the entertainment district, and we want to build on having the social activity,” said Bell. “That’s what I want to call it, is a social district because it’s meant to t incorporate things that would be conducive to inviting people to our downtown and to do that consistently. You can’t just have an event on a whim.”

According to the folks at Explore Harrison, the entertainment district has already piqued prospective businesses’ interest.

“I’ve already spoken with a new potential land owner in our downtown, and I asked them what their opinion of the entertainment district was, and they said, ‘why do you think we’re buying the building? We’re buying the building because of the entertainment district,” said Bell.

Explore Harrison anticipates an opening launch event for the entertainment district in the spring of 2023.

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