Liquor License Incentive To Develop Riverfronts

By Rachel Martin - 21Alive

August 20, 2013 Updated Aug 20, 2013 at 11:11 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (21Alive) – How about a Downtown Dining District? It's an option that has been available and is being pursued by a Fort Wayne City Council member, but not everyone is chomping at the bit about it.

The issue is alcohol, specifically the issuance of liquor licenses.

As part of Legacy Fort Wayne’s Riverfront Development Project, some members of City Council would like to make it easier for businesses to set up restaurants and bars along the riverfronts.

The city would offer non-transferable, three-way liquor license, which normally costs $60,000 – $100,000, at a reduced cost. A three-way license allows for the sale of beer, wine and liquor.

Councilman Geoff Paddock (D – 5th Dist.) is in favor and says it's a great idea that would attract and encourage new businesses and benefit the city's economy.

"There's a lot of potential for not only recreation, but beautification. I think there's a big demand for that I think it could really improve property values all across the city,” Paddock said.

Council President Tom Didier (R – 3rd Dist.) says issuing the licenses is sending the wrong message.

"I think it needs to be more family oriented. If you were going to do a dining district and you weren't going to do the alcohol licenses, I would have no issue with it,” Didier said.

It was a mixed reaction among those who spoke out at the public hearing Tuesday night, several of whom are bar owners. Some are in favor of the idea and others opposed in fear of competition. However, the Downtown Improvement District (DID) and the Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana (YLNI) support it.

Overall council members have mixed feelings, but they didn't take a vote Tuesday night.

A final decision on the matter will be made in the coming weeks.

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