DEP Holds Listening Session for Entertainment District

Winford Hunter

Last Updated on February 19, 2023 by Courtney Cole

Downtown Excelsior Partnership Listening Session regarding a proposed Entertainment District in Downtown Excelsior Springs
Downtown business owners discuss the proposed Entertainment District in a Listening Session on Tuesday, February 7, 2023 Photo Courtney Cole

Downtown business owners were invited to a Listening Session on Tuesday, February 7, 2023, hosted at Casa Di Vite International Wine Cafe. City of Excelsior Springs Economic Development Director Melinda Mehaffy and Downtown Excelsior Partnership Director Lyndsey Baxter led the group of over over twenty local business owners, in an open discussion on whether to propose an Entertainment District in the downtown or not.

Currently the City codes do not permit someone the ability to consume alcohol in public. Chapter 600.120 G1 states:

No person shall possess any open container of any alcoholic beverage or alcoholic substance nor shall any person consume or drink any alcoholic beverage or alcoholic substance, of any kind whatsoever, in or upon any public property within the City of Excelsior Springs, including but not limited to any public building, street, alley, sidewalk, public lot, park, recreational facility or public facility, except as provided for by a special use permit.

During downtown events, there are special use permits presented to the City Manager and City Leadership Team that allows those attending the ability to walk the downtown with an alcoholic drink in hand. However, throughout the rest of the year, it would be against the law. Entertainment Districts are an opportunity to allow those 21 or older the ability to walk permissible areas and enjoy an alcoholic drink. Mehaffy reported that in the past, there haven’t been any issues, and that most attendees are respectful of the downtown environment. She also explained that the ordinance isn’t meant for people to bring their own alcohol, but instead, this would be a way of increasing business for all of the downtown businesses.

To differentiate, those permitted to drink freely will need to consume from a branded cup that would be distributed through downtown businesses for a small fee. It would also allow for beverages to be sold and served in front of a business. In this case, they would not need to have the branded cup to enjoy an alcoholic drink. The hope is that if there’s a wait, the business will have the ability to offer shopping at nearby shops while enjoying a drink. However, in order to comply with liquor licenses, someone would not be permitted to bring an alcoholic drink into another establishment with a liquor license. This would also not permit someone to just freely walk the entire downtown drinking alcohol. There are proposed district boundaries and timeframes that would have to be approved by the council. Streets where there are a high amount of people living as residents, such as South Marietta, are not in the proposed boundary. Recognizing that if there are boundaries, there has to be proper disposal. Baxter mentioned that the DEP committees were aware of the needs for both refuse and signage throughout the district.

Downtown Excelsior Partnership Listening Session regarding a proposed Entertainment District in Downtown Excelsior Springs
Downtown Excelsior Partnership Director Lyndsey Baxter during Tuesday’s Listening Session Photo Courtney Cole

This meeting was an opportunity to give the downtown business owners the first say in whether Mehaffy and Baxter move forward with a proposal to the Council. It was stated if there had been any major concerns presented, they would not have move forward. The downtown committee plans to review this ordinance and make adjustments, as needed. When asked whether any of the council members have shown opposition or if the police have had concerns, Baxter reported that there weren’t any that have been shared so far.

The plan is to make a formal proposal to the City Council during their February 20, 2023 meeting. In the meantime, public feedback or questions regarding the issue should be directed to Lyndsey Baxter at 816-637-2811 or Melinda Mehaffy at 816-630-0752.

Proposed map of the Downtown Excelsior Partnership's boundaries for an Entertainment District
Proposed map of boundaries, shown in gray. Encompassing Slightly Off Broadway may be a proposed change to what is shown here.

What is Allowed

A customer to leave a licensed establishment between Noon and 10:00pm with a single plastic cup, 16 oz or less. The cup must be branded with the logo of the licensee or the Downtown Excelsior Springs logo,

A customer, after leaving an establishment, in the Entertainment Overlay District, to walk along the sidewalks within the Entertainment Overlay District between the house of Noon and 10:00pm.

Glassware to be used at sidewalk cafes/seating areas where food is being served.

Mobile boutiques, food and drink dispensing vehicles would be permitted with the appropriate permit.

Outdoor music, singing and entertainment until 11:00pm.

What is Not Allowed

A customer to leave an establishment with more than one drink at a time.

Anyone to drink an alcoholic beverage from a can, bottle, unbranded paper or plastic cup, or glass container while on the streets, sidewalks, or parking lots within the entertainment district.

A container larger than 16 oz. to be removed from a licensed establishment.

Any person to consume an alcoholic beverage in a motor vehicle.

Alcoholic beverages purchased outside the district to be consumed in public spaces and parking lots within the entertainment district.

An alcoholic beverage, regardless of where purchased, to be brought into a licensed establishment.

Underage drinking anywhere in the district.

Proposed District Boundaries

<< Enter district boundaries here >>

What is an Entertainment District

An entertainment district is an area within a city that is designated for recreational and cultural activities, such as dining, shopping, and entertainment. These districts often feature a concentration of restaurants, bars, nightclubs, theaters, and other entertainment venues.

What are the benefits of having an entertainment district in a city?

Having an entertainment district in a city can bring a variety of benefits, including increased tourism, job creation and economic growth. They also serve as a hub for cultural and social activity, providing a space for resident to come together and enjoy a night out.

What types of entertainment can be found in an entertainment district?

Entertainment districts can offer a variety of options, including live music venues, theaters, cinemas, arcades, bowling alleys, comedy clubs, and much more.

Are entertainment districts only found in large cities?

No, entertainment districts can be found in cities of all sizes, although they are often more prevalent in larger urban areas.

What are the hours of operation for entertainment districts?

The hours of operation for entertainment districts can vary depending on the specific district and individual establishments within it. However, many entertainment districts have extended hours, with many venues open late into the night.

How safe are entertainment districts?

Safety in entertainment districts varies, but many cities take steps to ensure that their entertainment districts are safe places to visit, with increased police presence and improved lighting and security measures.

Are entertainment districts only for adults?

Not necessarily. Many entertainment districts have family-friendly options, such as theaters and restaurants, making them suitable for people of all ages. This was also a subject that was brought up during the Listening Session and it was mentioned that family activities, such as pickleball, are also a part of local discussions.

What is the cost of visiting an entertainment district?

The cost of visiting an entertainment district can vary greatly depending on the specific district and the type of entertainment you choose. Some venues may have free admission, while others may charge a fee for admission or require the purchase of tickets. The cost of food and drinks in the district can also vary. There would be no cost for admission in the Excelsior Springs proposal, but there may be a small fee for the plastic branded cup that would be given to travel with.

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