Hamilton is preparing to raise its downtown adult-beverage program to a higher level — five stories above the street.
In another move to make its downtown area more appealing to workers, residents, outdoor diners and other visitors, Hamilton is moving to open the fifth level of its McDulin Parking Garage downtown to those wanting to eat and drink with elevated views of the city.
“We’ve had some discussions about how do we transform the roof of the parking garage into something that’s more of a public space, because it’s currently under-utilized, and it really has great views of the city, great views of Marcum Park, the courthouse, it overlooks Rotary Park,” said Aaron Hufford, a senior analyst for the city.
“Anything with a roof is kind of fun to be on, and hang out on,” Hufford said. “We’re still developing it and thinking through different pieces.”
The parking garage is within Hamilton’s Downtown Outdoor Refreshment Area, which launched in May and allows consumption of adult beverages.
One local party planner said she believes opening the rooftop to parties could be a big hit, and a money-maker for the city, if officials decide to go in that direction, rather than allowing merely individuals and groups of friends to use the space.
It will be open seven days a week, with restaurants such as ALL8UP pizza, Alexander’s Market & Deli and Neal’s Famous BBQ interested in delivering to the area on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings. As a city-owned property, smoking will not be allowed.
“It’s very low cost to put some picnic tables, some planters and trash cans up there,” Hufford said. “Let’s try this and see what happens.”
It could be weeks or months before the space is made available. The city has ordered enough picnic tables to seat 64 in what is envisioned as a public space, like a park — but on a rooftop. Outdoor games, such as a large chessboard, are planned.
“Providing a fun, roof-top dining experience further provides visitors and residents a reason to be in downtown Hamilton during non-work hours,” City Manager Joshua Smith wrote in a memo to city council members.
Municipal Brew Works and Quarter Barrel Brewery + Pub may be allowed to deliver beer to the area. The city provides free parking in the garage for the first two hours, so people will be able to pull in, park and party.
“It’s another exciting idea for downtown,” said Tony Brown, who owns ALL8UP pizza at 23 N. 3rd St., across from the parking garage, with his wife, Kathy Brown. “I appreciate what Joshua does, thinking outside the box, and I think it’s a pretty neat idea.”
His restaurant delivers to various places downtown, including Marcum Park.
“We’re excited about not just that, but the new apartments coming in, Marcum Apartments, and the DORA, and all the neat things going on downtown,” Brown said.
Might rooftop parties, corporate events or wedding receptions, be allowed?
“If a person wanted to do that, I’m sure we could figure that out,”Hufford said. “This is really early in the process, so we’re a few months out, I’d say.”
Allison Ritz, owner of Ritz Events, a Hamilton native and Hamilton High School 2004 graduate now living in Fairfield Twp., believes if the city opens the space to wedding receptions and other parties, it can be lucrative and fun, although she noted there could be liability issues.
City Law Director Heather Lewis was unavailable Friday to comment on possible liability matters.
Ritz envisions cornhole games and shuffleboard for entertainment.
“There are endless possibilities as far as parties go,” she said. “I think wedding receptions up there could be gorgeous, because you could have a strung-lights feature, DJs, birthdays, cookouts, anything like that.”
“It could be very, very well-done,” Ritz said.
The proposal tells Ritz that city government is “ready and willing to work on community, increasing revenue for the city, and building up the youth aspect of our city, trying to encourage young people to come in and utilize our city in a fun, positive manner.”
Jeff Gambrell, executive director of Hamilton! Civic Society, which seeks to improve quality of life in the city, focusing on art, education, community and environment, likes the concept.
“I think that’s pretty hip to do more venues like that, because that’s one of the things Hamilton is lacking, is number of venues for wedding parties, birthday parties, etc.,” Gambrell said. “Having a potential venue area like that I think would really increase the overall appeal of the city.”
“I think part of the future of the city is continuing to find new areas to venture toward, to offer more options like that,” Gambrell said.
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