Mount Clemens authorizes creation of downtown social district

By: Alex Szwarc | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published April 17, 2021

 Cellar 104 General Manager Dave Gagnon says that one reason he entered into the wine industry is because people enjoy it. The business is set to be part of a future social district.

Cellar 104 General Manager Dave Gagnon says that one reason he entered into the wine industry is because people enjoy it. The business is set to be part of a future social district.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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MOUNT CLEMENS — Over a dozen Mount Clemens businesses are now eligible to be part of a future social district.

On April 5, the Mount Clemens City Commission unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the creation of the Oasis Social District in downtown Mount Clemens.

In March, the Mount Clemens Downtown Development Authority voted unanimously to recommend that the city adopt the resolution.

The approved resolution designates the social district and commons area, and it establishes a management and maintenance plan.

Brian Tingley, Mount Clemens community development director, said the city would like to have everything in place for the social district by May 1.

“Individual establishments need to apply to the city for a permit and apply to the Michigan Liquor Control Commission for a permit,” he said. “We see this as an experimentation that hopefully will take off.”

Tingley, who also is the Mount Clemens DDA executive director, noted that the state created an opportunity for districts like the Oasis.

“The No. 1 goal is to help existing businesses, as we’re still dealing with the pandemic,” he said. “They’ll have an opportunity to draw customers in that can purchase alcohol and take it outside.”

As an economic development tool, he views the district as the potential for new businesses to call Mount Clemens their home.  

At the meeting, Kate Bell, from the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan, said that in 2020, the Michigan Legislature passed a bill authorizing individual municipalities to establish social districts where people over the age of 21 can buy alcohol and take alcohol from eligible licensees, strolling around outside within the social district.

“It’s primarily a measure for the COVID response,” she said. “We’ve seen that people enjoy being outside, and it fits in with the mission for Mainstreet USA for enhancing a more pedestrian-friendly downtown area.”

The Oasis will be managed by the DDA. Its hours of operation will be Thursdays and Fridays from noon to 10 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. After 10 p.m. on these days, or anytime from Monday to Wednesday, consumption of alcoholic beverages must be contained within the license-holder’s premises.

The items will now be forwarded to the Michigan Liquor Control Commission for filing.

The state legislation has authorized that, unless the state amends the sunset clause, dated Dec. 31, 2024, the ability of communities to have social districts would end at that time. The city could choose to cease the operation of the social district at any time.

One Mount Clemens business that could benefit from the district is Cellar 104, which opened in March.

The boutique winery, located at 104 Macomb Place in Mount Clemens, is inside the former site of Luigi’s Original restaurant.

Cellar 104 produces more than 10 varietal wines in Mount Clemens. Varietals are a wine made primarily from a single named grape variety.

General Manager Dave Gagnon said the best part of working with wine is that folks enjoy it.

“Whenever you go out to dinner, people like to have wine,” he said. “When you have a summer party, people like to have wine, so it’s always a situation we found that people enjoy.”

City documents regarding the district will now be forwarded to the Michigan Liquor Control Commission for filing.

Other eligible Mount Clemens establishments include O’Halloran’s Public House and Hall, Orleans Sports Cafe, Madison’s Pub and Three Blind Mice Irish Pub.

Tingley said the process is being finalized for businesses looking to apply for a social district permit with the city. The permit will be available to complete on the city’s website.

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