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Downtown social district could be coming to Kalamazoo

The social district would include a common area where customers could buy alcoholic beverages, shop, walk around and sit outside.
Credit: Kalamazoo Downtown Partnership

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — A resolution to create an outdoor social district in Kalamazoo was unanimously approved Monday by city commissioners.

According to the proposal, the social district will include a common area where customers will be allowed to buy alcoholic beverages from adjacent, licensed establishments, shop, walk around and sit outside.

Eligible establishments listed in the proposal include Coney Island, Tempo Vino, The Union, and more. 

A map of the proposed social district, along with the eligible establishments, is shown below:

Credit: Kalamazoo Downtown Partnership

"This is an opportunity to support businesses during a time when indoor capacities are limited and many people are most comfortable being outdoors," said Kalamazoo Downtown Partnership President Andrew Haan.

"The creation of a commons area gives us the opportunity to marry the need to help businesses keep doors open and the community's desire to have more outdoor, socially-distant activities."

To develop a plan for downtown Kalamazoo and to identify common area boundaries, the Kalamazoo Downtown Partnership worked with the City of Kalamazoo and downtown businesses.

Below is a list of the key components of the approval plan, as provided by the Kalamazoo Downtown Partnership.

  • Boundary: The Kalamazoo Downtown Economic Growth Authority boundary will be the designated social district. Within the social district, the commons area boundary, where customers may walk with purchased beverages, includes the Kalamazoo Mall, Michigan Avenue, and designated adjacent blocks within that boundary, including Exchange Place Alley from Portage Street to the Kalamazoo Mall and Farmers Alley from Exchange Place Alley to Michigan Avenue. Additional commons areas may be added at a later date, with City Commission approval.
  • Hours: Commons area hours will operate seven days a week, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 10 a.m. to 12 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
  • Qualified Establishments: The rules approved by City Commission encompass two dozen businesses located within the commons area boundary.
  • Management and Maintenance Plan: As outlined in PA 124, it is required to develop a plan for management and maintenance of the social district. Within this document is key information on how the social district will be managed, how the commons area will be signed, as well as various expectations of both qualified licensees and the Kalamazoo Downtown Partnership.

Now that the proposal has been approved by city commissioners, the proposal will be sent to the Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC). If the MLCC grant approves, social districts are planned to be open and operating within 10 business days.

This plan for a social district in Kalamazoo comes after similar plans were proposed in Grand Rapids. In July, the Grand Rapids City Commission approved the first social districts in the city's downtown area. 

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