City of Harrison, Ark. accepts proposal for an entertainment district

HARRISON, Ark. (KY3) – The Harrison City Council, Ark. formally passed an ordinance for an entertainment district in its downtown area.

The entertainment district will allow open containers of alcohol between different businesses opting for the district guidelines. Several rules are already in force with the regulation:

– Only beer and wine are allowed to travel from shop to shop

– Alcoholic beverages must be kept in a designated container, which can only be purchased at participating alcohol-licensed stores

– Beverages may only be taken out within a designated area around the plaza, excluding the courthouse lawn and the old federal building

– The transport of drinks is only permitted on certain days of the week at specified times.

With Harrison City Hall and the Boone County Courthouse moving away from downtown, many business owners were excited at the news of the district’s approval.

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

Several businesses, like Town House, have already started taking steps to better fit into the new entertainment district.

“Right now we’re open Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., but we’re going to apply for our liquor license so people can have mimosas,” Kuykendall said. “From there we want to open on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings.”

The district, led by Explore Harrison, is hoping to get it up and running as soon as possible but says it wants to “check all the boxes” before proceeding.

“Yes, the first step is to set up our committee, and that committee, that oversight committee that’s written into the regulation,” said Explore Harrison’s Matt Bell. “Gather those people together and start the planning process. We’re really trying to pay attention, to pay attention to the community and our downtown area, and try to do it right.”

According to Bell, the future of downtown is a concern that has been growing for community members in recent years, even since the proposal was initially narrowly defeated by the city council in 2018.

“More than anything, I want people to know that we’re doing this for our downtown area. We really want our downtown area to thrive,” Bell said.

Explore Harrison and the Oversight Committee will be responsible for entertainment district business proposals and any rule adjustments that may be needed.

“We want to include a lot of things in the entertainment district, and we want to build on the social activities,” Bell said. “That’s what I like to call it, is a social neighborhood because it’s meant to contain things that would help invite people into our downtown area, 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 attracted the interest of potential businesses.

“I’ve already spoken to a new prospective landowner in our downtown area and asked him what he thought of the entertainment district and he said, ‘Why do you think we’re buying the building? We’re buying the building for the entertainment district,” Bell said.

Explore Harrison anticipates a launch event for the Entertainment District in Spring 2023.

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