Riverfront district coming to South Bend

South Bend will be getting its own riverfront district in an effort to lure new business to the city.

The Common Council approved the redevelopment district Monday. The move will give new businesses a break on liquor license prices.

“The whole point of a riverfront district is to spur development along a river,” said Tamara Nichols-Smith, from Downtown South Bend. “That’s why 22 other cities have one. It’s why it was created.”

Outside the riverfront district, the price of a liquor license can be more than $30,000. Regular liquor licenses are limited and can be sold from one business to another. The new riverfront district will make more licenses available to businesses that meet the requirements set by the city.

“We’re looking for organizations that are really going to focus on a cultural and dining experience,” Nichols-Smith said. “We’re allowing people to take that money and put it into their facade, or their kitchen or marketing campaign. We’re doing something that is really going to help them become more successful out the door.”

Businesses interested in applying for a riverfront license will need to display prominent signage and use glassware, not plastic cups. Nichols-Smith said that nightclubs and stand-up clubs will not be given these special licenses.

“There is nothing really difficult about what we're asking,” she said. “It’s something that a high quality business would do anyway but it is something we are making sure of.”

There are only a few options for South Bend residents to dine by the river. The East Bank Emporium general manager Shawn Dickens said that the restaurant’s patio is one of the main attractions for their patrons.

“I think if there are more places close to the river it will just bring more people down to the riverfront,” Dickens said.

The redevelopment commission is scheduled to meet Thursday to discuss the details of the riverfront liquor license application process.


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