Social District

Downtown Salisbury Inc. (DSI) and the City of Salisbury are in the process of exploring the creation of a Downtown Salisbury Social District. Ultimately, a proposal will be made to City Council, asking them to approve a Downtown Salisbury Social District, to increase and expand the economic vitality of our Downtown for residents, property owners, business owners and visitors

DSI is inviting the public to provide input on the Downtown Salisbury Social District. The input sessions will focus on the  Bring Business Back to Downtown Bill. This bill, supported by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission, aims to increase economic vitality in North Carolina Downtowns.

Downtown Salisbury Social District Map
Outline of proposed Social District in Downtown Salisbury

Public Engagement Sessions

Find the dates, times and location for the public engagement sessions on the proposed Downtown Salisbury Social District, hosted by Downtown Salisbury.

Bars & Restaurants Session
Tuesday, January 11 – 3 p.m., in person at New Sarum

Merchants, Arts and Culture Groups Session
Tuesday, January 11 – 5 p.m., in person at 215 Depot St. (under the concourse)

Community Engagement Sessions
Friday, January 14 – 8:30 a.m., virtual (
Tuesday, January 18 – 11:30 a.m., in-person at 130 S. Main St.
Wednesday, January 19 – 5:30 p.m., in-person at Mean Mug
Thursday, January 20 – 5:30 p.m., virtual

Quarterly Stakeholders Meeting
Wednesday, January 26 – 8:30 a.m., in-person at City Hall & virtual

wine and beer

What is a social district?

A social district is a specific area in which alcoholic beverages are allowed to be carried in open containers on the street.

Frequently Asked Questions

History of Bring Business Back to Downtown – Bills 890 and 781

This bill was first proposed in May of 2021, sponsored by Timothy Moffat from District 117, Hendersonville.

It became a bipartisan bill as it moved through committee and was redrafted. The Senate passed House Bill 890 on a 35-7 vote, sending it back to the House for a final vote. There, House members had no debate at all before voting 95-8 in favor of the bill, sending it to Gov. Roy Cooper who signed it into law.

The bill made a number of changes regarding alcohol in NC, but according to sponsors of the bill, the attractive feature of this bill is that it allows the creation of social districts as an Economic Vitality booster. It will help “small businesses” who suffered most from Covid-19, as well as help to re-invigorate downtowns with increased tourism.

How do we create a social district?

The way the law was written, the following must be addressed to create a social district:

  • A geographic zone must be established and a map of that zone must be filed with the ABC
  • Special cups must be used that says “Must be 21-please drink responsibly”. Additionally, the cup must state in which business it was sold.
  • The zone must be clearly marked and delineated with visible markings and/or signs.
  • Sanitation, safety and public health must be considered and adequately addressed.
  • The district map, hours of operation, and days of operation are being discussed between the task force and the city staff. The resulting agreement will go to the city council for a vote.
  • Businesses that do not serve liquor may choose to opt out of allowing beverages in their store.

What are the pros of having a social district?

  • Increased tourism
  • A Social District offers a broad social and cultural experience for residents and visitors when combined with our brand new Bell Tower Green Park, and other exciting development plans, such as the Empire Hotel.
  • Opportunity for increased tourism as a ‘Destination Downtown.’
  • Opportunity for businesses and non-profits to hold Downtown events, such as art walks, festivals, crawls and many others.
  • Opportunity for increased dollars spent in Downtown stores and eateries as people stay local to shop and enjoy Salisbury.
  • Opportunity for existing AND new bars, non-bars and restaurants to increase revenue stream by serving “to-go” drinks.
  • Opportunity to encourage business growth in the MSD with new business seeking to participate in this economic opportunity.
  • Anecdotally, people drink more responsibly if they are mobile rather than stationary.

What are the main concerns?

  • Drinking related issues, such as underage consumption, public drunkenness, drunk driving and general irresponsible behavior.
  • People illegally bringing or consuming alcohol that has not been purchased in the social district.
  • Litter or waste increase.
  • Conflicting events within the Social District boundaries

What has been the experience of other cities who implemented social districts?

There are currently social districts in many states, including: Mississippi, Alabama, Ohio, Louisiana, Georgia, Oregon, Missouri, Nevada, Florida, New Jersey, Michigan.

Most cities have reported minimal to no increase in crime, 911 calls, destruction of property, or hospitalizations.

Almost every district reports that they have seen drastic increases in both tax and merchant revenue.

Most social districts conducted a trial period, then have continued to grow their districts and increase days/hours of operation, because they have proven to be successful and with so few incidents.

NC Social District News:

Nationwide Social District News:

What can you do to help get this passed?

Be vocal in discussing the district at our public engagement sessions, listed above.

Promote it in conversation with others, on social media and within your business.

Write letters asking the City Council to pass the district, explaining why it is important to your business and to Downtown Salisbury as a community.