More Virginia shopping centers may allow open carry of alcohol

More Virginia shopping centers may allow open carry of alcohol

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA. (WVIR) - A proposed bill could soon allow more folks to openly carry a cold one while walking around shopping centers Virginia.

The Washington Business Journal reports Fifth Street Station is one of four shopping centers in the commonwealth to have a commercial lifestyle center license. The license lets restaurant customers take their alcoholic beverage with them to other parts of the shopping center.

Fifth Street Station
Fifth Street Station (Source: WVIR)

Under current law, a shopping center can only apply for this license if it has at least 100,000 square feet of retail, other mixed use development and sit on at least 25 acres.

State Senator Barbara Favola (D) submitted a bill that would lower the requirement to 10 acres. If passed, this new law would primarily affect smaller shopping centers, including Hollymead ,should developers choose to apply for licensing.

“To the extent, the only exception will be reducing the requirement size, I don’t know that that will be especially controversial,” 58th District Delegate Rob Bell (R) said.

Some bar managers say getting the license would bring in more people, but they're also worried about safety.

“It would bring people to the shopping center, because you are in close proximity of the other shops,” Burton’s Grill General Manager Jason Phipps said. “But the other hand, again, it's the safety issue. It can always come back to the restaurant if something happens outside of our door.”

Timberwood Tap House Owner Adam Gregory is in favor of seeing more commercial lifestyle centers: “It just promotes a nice, social atmosphere in the center. And I think it’s a good thing for something like Fifth Street Station, where people can come and go to all the different businesses and restaurants.”

Fifth Street Station does have the license, but only for the area known as The Yard. Gregory hopes it expands to the rest of the restaurants in the shopping center.

“I think that it would be great for us. There are a lot of other restaurants in the area, you know? There’s Fuzzy’s and a couple of new spots coming in like BurgerFi, and so I think all of us would benefit from that,” he said.

Shops at Stonefield
Shops at Stonefield (Source: WVIR)

The Shops at Stonefield does qualify for one of these licenses under the current guidelines, but the development company has yet to pursue one. Developers say they did consider getting the license at one point, but decided to review the progress of other centers before deciding. They say they do plan on re-assessing the license for the Shops at Stonefield this year.

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