The Downtown Investment Authority Strategic Implementation Committee unanimously approved a proposal Oct. 16 to allow open consumption of alcoholic beverages along the Northbank and Southbank Riverwalks.
Resolution 2023-10-06 now will be considered by the DIA board of directors, which will decide whether to ask City Council to enact legislation to allow the plan to proceed.
The resolution states that DIA supports creating a “Jacksonville Riverwalk Specialty Center,” comprising the Northbank and Southside Riverwalks together with adjoining public and privately held parcels and their respective development, for the purposes of permitting open-container alcohol consumption along the St. Johns River Downtown.
DIA CEO Lori Boyer told the committee that state law allows creation of the specialty centers adjacent to navigable waterways.
Boyer said the Jacksonville plan is based on a similar practice in Tampa that was seen several years ago by participants in a JAX Chamber leadership trip.
In Jacksonville, the specialty center on the Northbank would be between the Riverside Arts Market and the Sports Complex.
On the Southbank, the center would be between the Fuller Warren Bridge and the RiversEdge development under construction east of the Duval County Public Schools headquarters.
The specialty center authorization is subject to conditions:
• Alcoholic beverages may be sold by vendors licensed by the state to serve alcohol and consumed only in approved containers, specifically a plastic cup that bears the Jacksonville Riverwalk Logo, is no larger than 16 ounces and is approved by the city for sale and use in the Jacksonville Riverwalk Specialty Center.
• Possession would be limited to no more than two approved containers per person.
• Open containers would not be allowed in nearby public parks unless a special event permit allowing alcoholic beverages is issued for an event by the city.
• Open containers of alcoholic beverages purchased outside the specialty center would not be allowed.
Boyer said that enforcement of the open container rules in the specialty center would be conducted by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
“It’s no different than any other part of the city,” Boyer said.
The resolution states that creating the specialty center would “allow patrons the opportunity to purchase alcoholic drinks at designated locations along the Riverwalks and enjoy imbibing their beverages as they stroll along the St. Johns River, taking in all the beauty that Jacksonville has to offer.”