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Jackson creates downtown social district created to help businesses affected by pandemic

Posted at 3:41 PM, Apr 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-30 16:28:01-04

You may be able to enjoy your adult beverages while moving about freely in downtown Jackson soon.

The City Council voted six to one in favor of creating a social district with the goal of bringing more people downtown safely while supporting small businesses.

The area encompasses most of downtown Jackson, from Louis Glick Highway to Washington Avenue and from Blackstone Street to Martin Luther King Street.

In total, the city identified 15 businesses in that area. But, it will be up to the owners to make this a reality.

Social District map

“Small business owners are some of the hardest working people you’ll meet. This is hard on everybody especially them. A lot of times I’m finding our small business owners, they won’t say it. They’re proud, they’re working hard, they’re putting a positive face on things. They’re saying, ’We’re making it, we’re surviving,’ but we also know that it is tight,” Downtown Development Authority Director Cory Mays said.

Businesses will have to fill out paperwork through the state Licensing and Regulatory Affairs office, and the Liquor Control Commission. Once that batch of paperwork is complete, it will go before the City Council and then to the state for one final stamp of approval.

Some of the initial concerns about a social district

“They have to go through a permitting process. They have to first be approved by Jackson City Council and then have their permit approved by the state of Michigan. There’s a lot that goes into it. Not everyone can just start serving drinks and having their customers take them outside,” Dimick said.

There is no set date yet. The city of Jackson is hoping to start the social district in June or July. The city is preparing to talk to businesses about signage and fence usage. They will be bringing trash cans to keep the district clean. There will also be a police presence to ensure safety.


“It’s a way to extend people’s time and their social experience downtown. Sure, there might be a person or two that makes a bad choice and takes this farther than they should,” Mays said. “I don’t think you’re going to have any situation like this where you won’t have a problem or two down the road but we’re really anticipating this will go well and be positive and we’re going to have people that respect the rules and the boundaries and have a good time.”

City of Jackson social districts quote

The planned hours for this will be Thursdays and Fridays noon to midnight and Saturdays and Sundays 9 a.m. to midnight as well as "select holidays."

"For example like Thanksgiving. It would be the day of Thanksgiving, the day before Thanksgiving which is a big bar night, and the day after Thanksgiving. It would just depend on the holiday and when they fall," Dimick said.

Customers will not be able to use glassware in the district. They must be in plastic cups with a logo or other sort of signifier showing what it is.

“We have a way now for people to meet a friend for dinner have a drink, ’Oh I didn’t finish my drink, but I got another group of friends just down the street at another restaurant, I really want to go join them but I have half a beer left. No problem I'll take it there with me,’” Mays said.

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