Portland City Council Calls for Alcohol Sales in a Special District
The City of Portland has a plan to redevelop the city’s Old Town area. The plan comes after more than three years of study and input from citizens, property owners and consultants. Now as a part of that plan the City Council has called for an election in May that will ask Portland voters to decide whether to allow the sale of alcoholic beverages within a special area of Old Town. For more information about the plan, please visit project-portland.com and review the Leisure Entertainment District (LED) Frequently Asked Questions and Answers here: Portland Leisure Entertainment District FAQs & Answers Document.
The Old Town area has seen little growth and development in recent decades. According to City Manager Randy Wright, “Property values are depressed in Old Town compared to other developed parts of the city and the taxes generated from these properties pay for about one-half of the city services required to support this area.”
For redevelopment to occur, the area must be able to attract new business and investment. The city’s plan will create public spaces, places for families to enjoy, promote shopping and dining opportunities, and create greater value for property owners. The plan hinges on the limited sale of alcoholic beverages within a defined district.
Portland operates under one of several local options available in Texas for the sale of alcohol. In 2005, Portland voters approved the sale of alcoholic beverages only in restaurants. Under current Texas law, to serve alcohol by the drink in the Old Town area voters would have to change the local option to liquor by the drink for the whole city limits of Portland, a choice the city did not support. Therefore, in 2021, the city sought state legislation especially for Portland that would allow for liquor sales only within a designated district and not anywhere else in Portland. SB 1216, supported by State Representative J.M. Lozano and Senator Judith Zaffirini, was passed by the legislature and became law last September. Portland is the only city in Texas allowed to create this special district.
In February, the Portland City Council created the Leisure and Entertainment District (LED) within the Old Town area of Portland. Also in February, the City Council passed local ordinances to further restrict the kinds of businesses able to sell alcohol in the LED in the event voters approve the sale of alcohol. According to Mayor Cathy Skurow, “Bars, saloons and similar businesses will not be permitted in the LED. The newly created ordinances were designed to attract businesses like boutiques, micro-breweries/distilleries, entertainment and cultural venues and other family-friendly venues for our residents and visitors.”
If voters approve the sale of alcohol in the LED in the May election, there will be new opportunities for investment in restaurants, shops, entertainment venues and local gathering spots. The new district will promote revitalization and create an area where residents can congregate to enjoy celebrating, dining and entertaining.