The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

June 20, 2013

Huntsville opening 2 entertainment districts

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) — The city of Huntsville is trying to spice up life in its downtown area with a pair of new entertainment districts.

Promoters are planning a Thursday launch for the new areas, where restaurant and bar patrons will be able to purchase alcoholic beverages to-go and then stroll the streets at night.

The goal is to have an area that includes street performers, outdoor movies, art demonstrations and more.

"It's going to make downtown that much more vibrant and that much more alive," said Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle.

The plan includes more than 20 downtown bars and restaurants that will be allowed to serve alcohol to go in plastic cups thanks to a new state law on open containers of alcohol.

City officials say they'll review operations and make possible adjustments to the areas' boundaries and rules after 90 days.

The entertainment districts will operate between 5 and 10 p.m. during a three-month trial period on Thursdays and Fridays.

Aside from relaxed alcohol regulations, city officials say the entertainment districts are planned to capitalize on the local arts scene as well.

"We'll be working to pull some of these great local musicians out of the clubs onto the streets and onto the sidewalks," said Arts Council Executive Director Allison Dillon-Jauken. "We want to see downtown vibrancy grow exponentially."

In addition, the Historic Huntsville Foundation plans to launch outdoor movie nights beginning July 26. Plans call for movies to be projected onto the rear wall of the Huntsville Museum of Art.

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