After years of discussion, applications open for social districts in city of Charlotte

The city approved an ordinance allowing social districts in August, and officially opened application process on Tuesday.
Several areas have expressed interest in applying, including Plaza Midwood and Lower South End.
Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 11:53 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Social districts, designated areas where people can walk between businesses with alcoholic drinks, became a topic of discussion during the pandemic.

The city of Charlotte approved the creation of these districts through an ordinance in August and officially opened applications on Tuesday.

Business leaders in several areas have expressed interest, including Plaza Midwood and Lower South End.

“I live in Huntersville so I saw that Birkdale implemented this, so I was like ‘oh I think this would be a good idea for our little area,’” Paige Flotkoetter, the executive director of Gilde Brewery in LoSo, told WBTV.

Flotkoetter said she wants people to be able to experience the stretch of up-and-coming LoSo with drinks in hand, which is why Gilde Brewery is applying for a social district on behalf of the area.

“It would give us more of a neighborhood feeling,” she said. “With all of the businesses coming here we thought it would be a great idea to incorporate everybody together.”

She is working on completing the application for a social district that would cover the area of Dewitt Lane between Tryclan Drive and Clanton Road.

WBTV asked the city of Charlotte why this process has taken so long, as other towns have implemented social districts in shorter time frames.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the city said:

“The process for Social Districts in Charlotte is unlike other North Carolina municipalities that created a single Social District in their central business areas. Charlotte created a unique framework that allows numerous areas of the city to apply for the creation of individual Social Districts. While our approach has delayed the potential creation of the Districts, we heard the importance of allowing each distinct area of our city the opportunity to create their own Social District.”

“We want to make sure it’s done in the most responsible way,” Jason Michel, executive director of the Plaza Midwood Merchants Association, told WBTV.

Michel says the Plaza Midwood social district application will include the use of steel, recyclable cups.

“Something that someone would actually want to keep and not throw away or throw on the ground,” he said.

They will also be required to notify and get feedback from nearby residents.

“Hopefully we’ll tick all the boxes and they’ll be happy, and our community will be happy, and we’ll be hanging out in the streets,” he said.

A spokesperson for Charlotte Center City Partners also confirmed they are still looking into applying for social districts, telling WBTV the following:

“We believe that social districts can be great economic development tools for Uptown and South End and enhance the experience for residents, businesses, and visitors. We do plan to apply for social districts in Uptown and South End, and we are actively working with our stakeholders on a shared vision and approach.

Uptown and South End are dense, complex, fast-evolving districts, and successful social districts will require thoughtful planning and execution. We don’t want to move too fast and want to be sure we engage all of our stakeholders in the areas that are interested in social districts.”

For more information on the criteria required to apply for a social district, click here.