More liquor licenses could help in developing downtown

LINCOLN PARK — A glut of new liquor licenses is part of city officials plans for making the city’s downtown a Downriver place to be.

Forty-three licenses within the city limits recently were approved by the Michigan Liquor Control Commission, a dramatic increase from the single license previously held in escrow by the city. Officials had declined efforts from businesses seeking to buy the escrowed license with an eye toward attracting a chain restaurant.

Lincoln Park’s downtown development district is situated mostly along Fort Street from Champaign to Outer Drive, along Southfield Road from Electric to Porter and along Outer Drive from Lafayette to Austin.

The commission in determining a community’s license quota takes into account public and private investments in a downtown area, officials say, and usually permits one license for every investment of $200,000 during the past five years. The figure of 43 licenses for Lincoln Park resulted from city officials’ ability to demonstrate $8.6 million worth of investments since 2005.

The new, larger number of licenses doesn’t necessarily mean streams of whiskey soon will be flowing downtown, however, as businesses still are required to apply for them — subject to approval by the City Council and the LCC.

Phillip McKenna, president of city planning consultants McKenna Associates, said in published reports recently that the importance of liquor licenses to luring new dining and entertainment businesses “cannot be overstated,” citing similar successful efforts in Royal Oak, Birmingham and Plymouth. City officials complimented the firm’s work and said it sets the table for positive developments.