May 6, 2024 - Politics

Stillwater wants to host Minnesota's second social district

stillwater lift bridge

Stillwater's iconic lift bridge. Photo: Karen Bleier/AFP via Getty Images

Stillwater is making a bid to host Minnesota's second social district.

State of play: A new bill, introduced Tuesday by GOP state Sen. Karin Housley, would authorize the border city to follow in Anoka's footsteps by allowing patrons to carry and drink boozy beverages between restaurants and bars.

What they're saying: Housley, who lives in Stillwater, told Axios that an outdoor social district would further boost economic development in the popular tourist destination along the St. Croix River.

  • "Our downtown is booming ... it's a fun, social place to be," she said.
  • "It would just be nice to be able to walk from restaurant to restaurant carrying your drink."

Reality check: It's pretty late in the session for newly introduced bills to gain traction and pass.

  • And Anoka officials have indicated that Stillwater isn't the only city interested in joining the fun.

What we're watching: Housley said she's already brought the idea to the relevant committee chairs in hopes of getting the language incorporated into a broader spending and policy bill before the Legislature's May 20 adjournment.

Catch up fast: Last year, the Legislature gave Anoka the green light to pilot a social district program.

  • The north metro suburb, which launched a second, summer-long trial of the concept on May 1, is expected to report back to the Legislature on how it went next year.

The fine print: Even if the Stillwater-specific bill does pass, city officials will need to finalize and approve the program before it launches.

  • Housley says she introduced the bill after confirming the city's interest.

More coverage: Anoka's drinks to-go are back this summer

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