This is a Your Voice Your Station Special Report
HOMEWOOD, Ala. (WIAT) — The Homewood City Council are entertaining ideas for 2 additional entertainment districts in the city, one in Edgewood and another in West Homewood. But one Edgewood business owner isn’t happy about it.
“If you turn this into an entertainment district, you cannot go back,” Chris Collins, owner of Homewood Antiques, said. She worries an entertainment district would entice bars and restaurants to move to Edgewood, and possibly push her out of business.
“Once bars come in, or once the personality of this area changes, you can’t get it back,” she adds.
Homewood City Council President Alex Wyatt understands the opposition but doesn’t believe an entertainment district would have anything to do with her business.
“This isn’t about trying to encourage anything or bring anything new in. What goes there is more affected by zoning than it is an ABC license,” Wyatt said.
Wyatt added that the point of the entertainment districts is to allow restaurant patrons to purchase alcohol and carry the beverage around outside within the designated area. The city already approved one in Homewood’s downtown area.
The districts can’t come to fruition until the Alabama State Legislature considers the proposal during the next regular session. They previously approved Homewood’s request for a downtown district, and several others in other municipalities.
“This allows them to walk further, maybe do a little window shopping, carry an open beverage throughout the entertainment district. It’s been very successful, and Homewood Police Department has agreed with that assessment as well,” Jennifer Andress, a Homewood City Councilor, added.
Homewood Police Department supports the idea of entertainment districts because it doesn’t put them in a tough spot enforcing the law. Currently, if a person orders a drink from a restaurant in Edgewood, they technically can’t sit outside on the sidewalk with the beverage.
The entertainment district would allow that, which leaders say is already being done. Still, it’s concerning to Collins.
“I have a place here. I have a history here,” Collins said. “I have people that we consider family here. And I will get pushed out.”
The next step is waiting to see if the legislature approves the concept. After that, the council promises to have transparent discussions with business owners and community members before making a final decision.