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Florence debates turning downtown into entertainment district

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FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) – City leaders and private business owners in Florence are exploring the pros and cons of declaring downtown an entertainment district. The move would allow visitors to walk the streets in the district with open containers of alcohol.

Each day, thousands travel into downtown Florence for shopping and eating at their favorite local spot.  Over the past several years, $200 million has been privately invested to ensure the success of downtown for generations to come.

“Restaurants are successful, some of the clothing stores are successful, all the merchants are successful, and so it’s all kind of feeding off of itself,” explained Florence mayor Mickey Haddock. “So how do we tie all of that together to continue to make it a positive place for people to want to come and visit?”

In the last few weeks, business leaders and the city decided to look at making downtown an entertainment district.

Mayor Haddock said the declaration would allow for more live events and allow visitors to take open containers of alcohol out of establishments and onto the sidewalks.

But on the other hand, he doesn’t want downtown to lose its identity.

“You see kids and families walking, does an open container of alcohol affect [downtown] in a negative manner?” questioned Haddock. “We don’t want to do anything that would hurt; we only want to do anything we can to enhance.”

And Haddock said the committee will be visiting cities like Huntsville who have led the way in north Alabama to learn more on the logistics of an entertainment district.

If Florence decides to approve the entertainment district designation, they must work with the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board to develop enforcement and open container policies.

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