Downtown outdoor drinking area could expand; Columbus seeks resident input

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Columbus residents and visitors with an interest in outdoor alcohol consumption Downtown will have a chance to speak up on Wednesday.

The Columbus City Council will hold a public hearing on the proposed City Center Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA) at 5 p.m. at Land-Grant Brewing, 424 W. Town St. Councilmember Nick Bankston, along with city Department of Development officials, will coordinate the meeting.

The proposal would transform almost all of Downtown into a DORA, allowing people to carry alcoholic beverages in specially purchased cups in public.

The new zone, also envisioned to include part of growing nightlife area in Franklinton west of COSI, would add to one that already links Nationwide Arena, Huntington Park, and Lower.com Field during games and events at those three major Downtown sporting venues along Nationwide Boulevard.

The proposal was developed in response to community input into the 2022 update to a long-term strategic plan for Downtown,  Amy Taylor, president of the Columbus Downtown Development Corporation, spoke of the proposal last fall.

With DORAs already established in the downtown areas of several suburbs, including Worthington, Hilliard, Gahanna, Dublin and others, “it was a natural thing for people to wonder why it wasn’t in the core of Downtown.”

The proposed DORA zone would go as far north as Nationwide Boulevard, touching the southern end of the Greater Columbus Convention Center, but would not connect with the existing Arena District DORA, city maps show. It would also have more generous hours of operation, allowing for the public to carry specially marked cups of alcohol sold by restaurants and bars within the DORA seven days a week, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Taylor said.

Since 2015, state lawmakers have amended the law several times, generally expanding it and allowing for cities to have more and larger DORAs.

The proposed DORA zone does not currently include any part of the Short North, the city’s main tavern and restaurant district.