Hamilton looks to again expand outdoor drinking district: What that would mean

Hamilton is considering expanding its Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area, where people can sip alcoholic beverages as they stroll around various parts of the city.

Officials also are considering increasing the hours when the DORA can operate as early as 9 a.m. so businesses wanting to offer brunch-to-go can sell alcohol-to-go. DORA sales at special events also are being considered.

As long as people buy from participating bars and restaurants that use official DORA cups, they can buy alcoholic beverages “to go” from noon to midnight. They must stay within boundaries of the district’s 250-plus acres, where there now are 22 participating establishments. Last year, Hamilton businesses sold 55,000 DORA cups,” according to the city.

The additions, if Hamilton City Council approves them, would add about 41 more acres, for a total of 291.85 acres. Before that happens, officials are asking people for feedback about the newly proposed areas.

Here are the proposed changes:

  • The DORA district now includes the city’s Main Street business corridor. The city wants to expand it a block northward to include more of Park Avenue and Sutherland Park. The reason is officials expect pedestrians who will buy DORA cups at Spooky Nook Sports Champion Mill should be given the option of walking along Park on their way to Main Street.
  • The former Beckett Paper building, which the city hopes will be the site of a future development, is another proposed addition, as is Heaton Street up to the intersection of Greenwood and Heaton, where a businessman is working to open the Stone Tavern.
  • Maple Avenue also would be added, from downtown to 7th Street, including the future location of the CSX railway station and the proposed Amp House microbrewery.
  • The southernmost part of the current DORA district, which now extends to Ludlow Street, would be trimmed at Maple.

People wanting to give feedback about the proposed changes can send emails to planning@hamilton-oh.gov. They also can speak directly to council at its Sept. 22, Oct. 13 and Oct. 27 meetings.

Sgt. Richard Burkhardt said there have been very few, if any problems with the DORA.

Several months ago, Hamilton’s police department checked when asked to do so by a northern Ohio police department, he said.

“We didn’t have one person get a ticket or anything in the DORA” for the years that were checked, he said. “We haven’t had any problems with anybody, how or where they’re supposed to be, or anything, which is good.”

The area of Maple Avenue is under consideration because “it’s a commercial corridor,” and is expected to increasingly become one, with movement of the historic train station there, and the future opening of the microbrewery, said city small-business specialist Mallory Greenham. “We see that as an area of growth.”

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