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Raleigh's downtown social district to expand in August

A beer flight from New District Brewing Co.
Courtesy of New District Brewing Co.
A beer flight from New District Brewing Co.

Raleigh will expand the boundaries and the hours for its downtown social district, starting later this summer.

Patrons can buy, and then carry alcohol outside — as well as to and from participating businesses — in the district known as "Sip n' Stroll," which currently includes about six square blocks downtown. The expansion will add more of the Warehouse District up to parts of Hillsborough Street. It will also open an hour earlier, running from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. to accommodate brunch hours.

Downtown Raleigh Alliance surveyed residents and businesses about the impacts of the social district since it opened last August. The group's president Bill King told the Raleigh City Council this week that it's been successful so far.

"The social district has increased sales and has led to new sales that otherwise would have not occurred. So that's great," King said. "That was part of the intention, was to help businesses that have been deeply affected over the last three years in downtown. The social district has accomplished that."

King said the survey also showed overwhelming support for expanding the district. Nearly 80% of respondents said it has had a positive impact.

"There have been no known issues associated with noise, crime or disturbances as a result of the social district," added Whitney Schoenfeld of Raleigh's Emergency Management and Special Events office. "There's been no need for dedicated additional law enforcement. There's been no significant increase in trash or littering."

The expansion is set to go into effect on August 15 to give city staff enough time to add more signage in the newest areas.

Will Michaels is WUNC's Weekend Host and Reporter.
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