Hamilton expanding outdoor drinking area for development

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Caption
The Downtown Outdoor Refreshment Area, or DORA, is Hamilton??€™s latest economic development tool.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Hamilton’s Downtown Outdoor Refreshment Area program has sold almost three times as many to-go cups so far this year than it did during 12 months each of its first two years.

The city now is poised to expand the size of the the program, which has been hailed as a jobs-saver because it allowed microbreweries like Municipal Brew Works to avoid layoffs of almost its employees.

Hamilton City Council at its June 24 meeting likely will vote to expand the program eastward along High Street to Ohio 4; south along B Street; and also include the Cohen Recycling property, which is directly across the Great Miami River from the Spooky Nook Sports Champion Mill indoor-sports-complex development now being built.

The owner of one bar that would benefit, Arches Saloon at 233 South B Street, says he hopes to use the program to revitalize the area and rid it of drugs and other crimes.

Mallory Greenham, a small business development specialist for the city, said much of the reason for the geographical expansion is to give companies added incentive to develop properties within the expanded boundaries.

The DORA district now has 11 participating businesses that sell to-go alcoholic beverages. The new boundaries would add four more places that have liquor licenses, although all four may not opt to participate.

Aside from Arches, the other businesses in the expanded area are Taqueria El Comal at 747 High St.; Wingstop at 1029 High St.; and Towne Pub, 341 S. B St.

“In 2018 and ‘19, we went through approximately 10,000 DORA cups,” Jacob Stone-Welch of the Department of Neighborhoods told Hamilton City Council last week. “So far in 2020 — and I updated this actually this morning — it looks like it’s about 29,000.”

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“Because the DORA exists in an outdoor space, and our parks and outdoor spaces are still open, it has become very valuable for our businesses that are part of that program to be able to continue to serve to-go beverages out into the open air, and as you can see, it’s been used quite thoroughly,” Stone-Welch said.

Hamilton native Matt Pater, 44, who owns Arches Saloon, said he has been buying properties along South B Street “with hopes of starting the lengthy regentrification process of an area.”

“We’re wanting to get rid of the element that has been I guess over there for a while, some of the crime and things, and trying to work with the police department and the city on building that area back up,” Pater said.

Pater, who has worked as a homebuilder in the Nashville area, hopes to create an entertainment development in the area that will be in keeping with the area’s historic architecture.

“I think it’ll attract more people, maybe walking from the Main Street area to venture down to see us,” Pater said. “I think it’s also going to allow for more of a community feel in the area to have some more sidewalk traffic.”

Other proposed changes include these:

  • The new DORA authorization will allow production of DORA "containers" rather than just cups because, "There's now alcoholic ice cream available in our community," Stone-Welch said. "Having a container instead of a cup allows us to get a little more creative and maybe make DORA bowls at a later date."
  • The city now is proposing to move to generic DORA cups, rather than ones that have the names of individual businesses on them, partly to avoid having to store cups with names of each establishment, and also to reduce the logistics of producing cups for each business.

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