TEXARKANA, Ark. (KTAL/KMSS) – Bar hopping as we know it may soon change in Arkansas, now that a proposal making its way through the state legislature would allow cities to create entertainment districts.
Officials said Texarkana city staff members were working on plans to turn downtown into an entertainment district.
“It’s gonna be exciting for downtown,” said Mayor Allen Brown.
Brown said his team is working out plans to make Broad Street a little more like Bourbon Street in New Orleans.
“We’re behind times in some of those areas and people have been able to see these entertainment districts develop areas that wouldn’t have normally been developed,” said Brown.
New legislation passed by the state House and Senate would allow cities to designate entertainment districts with their own rules regarding possession of alcohol. This includes the ability to take an open container outside a business.
“We hope it’ll create some jobs and create some venues downtown within this entertainment district where that it’s not so attractive now,” said Brown.
David Peavy is working on opening a new business and is looking forward to the possibility of downtown becoming more of a destination.
“We don’t want downtown to come back, we want it to be reinvented and this as an entertainment district, this will allow it to be reinvented as a new place,” said Peavy.
The move will also open the area for new growth.
“It connects dots when you’re able to go from one to the other with your refreshment that you’re choosing to take,” said Peavy.
The possible measure is something some residents support.
“There’s buildings that are empty that with this entertainment district might be filled again,” said Jacob Potter.
“If you think about it, there’s not much to do in Texarkana,” said Jerry Easley. “So if you bring something in like this, it would really help the revenue of the city and give people something to do.”
The Planning Commission will consider the city’s plans, which once approved would go into effect after Governor Asa Hutchinson signs the bill into law. The public is invited to voice their opinions on the proposal at the Planning Commission’s meetings.