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Should Tanger Outlet become its own social drinking district in Mebane?

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Mebane’s city council heard a proposal during its latest meeting from the general manager of Tanger Outlets who assured city officials that the creation of a social drinking district at the outlet mall will put more revenue in local government coffers.

Tanger Outlets at 4000 Arrowhead Boulevard in Mebane, which backs up to I-85/40, hopes to launch a social drinking district in which patrons 21 years and older can consume alcohol in common areas on the mall property, including on sidewalks between store fronts and in participating businesses that hold ABC permits, based on a presentation Mebane’s city council heard during its latest meeting last week.

The general manager for Tanger Outlets in Mebane assured city officials last Monday night that the creation of a social drinking district at the outlet mall will eventually put more revenue in local government coffers.

The city council recently approved a one-year trial run for a downtown social drinking district that operates between 11:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. between Clay and Seventh streets.  Also included in the downtown social district is another shared retail space with about a half-dozen merchants, the Little Shops of Mebane, along North Third Street.

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While the agenda for the city council’s July 1 meeting had indicated that council approval wasn’t required in order for the outlet mall to establish a social drinking district, Tanger Outlets general manager Amanda Slayden told Mebane’s city council that she is  seeking approval of an ordinance to allow Tanger to establish “a private property social district” in which alcoholic beverages could be consumed in common areas at the outlet mall.

“It will not include retail areas or the parking lot,” Slayden assured the council.

Slayden told the council that several other Tanger Outlets locations – in Grand Rapids, Michigan; Sevierville, Tennessee; and Savannah, Georgia – have established social drinking districts.

“We want to increase customer dwell time,” Slayden explained during her presentation to the council, suggesting that the increase in customer traffic will lead to a subsequent increase in sales tax dollars flowing into the city.

 

Unclear if patrons would be allowed to consume wine and mixed drinks

“Y’all are going to create an area that’s going to start selling beer?” asked mayor Ed Hooks.

Slayden responded, “We do have Bright Penny Brewing,” which is a craft brewery that has one location on North Seventh Street, as well as a second location in Mebane at the outlet mall.

The general manager was not asked whether consumption of wine and mixed beverages also would be allowed within the social district; nor did she broach that potential aspect of its operations during her presentation to and brief exchange with the council.  Slayden had not responded to an inquiry from The Alamance News by press time.

Bright Penny Brewing is the only current, active ABC permit holder (for malt beverages and unfortified wine) at Tanger Outlets in Mebane, according to the state ABC commission.  Bright Penny also holds ABC permits for its other location in Mebane.

Only those establishments that are licensed for onsite sales and consumption by the state Alcoholic Beverage Control commission would be allowed to sell alcoholic beverages within Tanger’s social drinking district, based on information that the general manager presented to the council.  Onsite consumption of alcohol – from 16-ounce (or less) cups bearing a special logo – would be allowed only in designated common areas at the outlet mall.

“Signage will identify district rules at each entry point,” Slayden told the council.  Window signs and “floor clings” also would be used to patrons who imbibe on the premises that no alcohol is can leave the social district boundaries.  Retail stores would have signs at the storefront, advising patrons that alcoholic beverages are to be discarded prior to entering.

Slayden also emphasized for the council the security and sanitation measures already in place in place at Tanger, such as 24-hour video surveillance; private security officers who patrol the property 24-hours a day; an off-duty officer as necessary; and contracted housekeeping staff for normal operating hours.

 

Tanger social district would run from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

The proposed hours of operation for the social drinking district at Tanger Outlets in Mebane would operate from 10:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday throughout most of the year, Slayden said, adding that those hours would be shortened, from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., during the winter.  [The outlet mall is open from 11:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. on Sundays.]

“It is based on and developed around our events marketing plan, so a good portion is going to be based towards a green space we will be constructing toward the end of this summer,” Slayden said, describing the green space as “turf.”

In response to a question from council member Montrena Hadley, Slayden said that Tanger hosts approximately eight large events per year and hopes to establish a ninth public event that Slayden called “Bluegrass and Brews.”

Councilman Jonathan White said he needed more time to consider the proposal.

At the conclusion of the presentation, assistant city manager Preston Mitchell said that the council would need to hold a public hearing on the proposed social drinking district at Tanger at its next meeting in August. (Mitchell was subsequently appointed as Mebane’s interim city manager just before the council adjourned its meeting, shortly after 12:00 a.m. last Tuesday morning.)

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