ROGERS, Ark. (KNWA/FOX24) — The City of Rogers is moving forward with creating a new entertainment district.
The Bellview Entertainment District will be located at the Pinnacle Hills Promenade shopping area and includes the businesses right across the street to the east on Bellview Road.
“Beer brings people together,” said Mike Peerson, owner of Rendezvous Junction Brewing Company on Bellview.
Just like its name implies, Rendezvous Junction is a place people come together over a glass of beer.
“We love it here,” he said. “The location is just growing with the construction next door and the traffic on Bellview is great for us.”
Peerson supports being part of the new Bellview Entertainment District. The City of Rogers said it was the businesses in the Promenade area that brought the interest in creating this district forward.
“We’re looking forward to and we hope the city approves it,” he said.
Peerson got his wish as the Rogers City Council approved the new district unanimously at its regular meeting on Tuesday.
Justin Pounds is the Music and Events coordinator for Rogers. He said he is always happy seeing the number of people coming out to enjoy the Railyard Entertainment District downtown since it opened in 2021.
He expects the Bellview district to also be a benefit to those enjoying the Promenade area.
“There’s a number of established alcohol serving businesses there and it’s very walkable,” he said.
Mayor Greg Hines did voice some concerns about wanting to see enhanced signal crosswalks added on Bellview for those who want to cross that street.
Director of Community Development for Rogers, John McCurdy, said people shouldn’t be concerned about an increase in crime or bad behavior with this new district since the Railyard district has been a tame environment.
“It’s not like Bourbon Street,” he said. “We’ve made no arrests so far. There are some pretty strict rules where you can only have one drink and you can’t bring alcohol into the district.”
You also have to get a wristband from one of the alcohol-serving establishments to be able to take your drink outside.
Arkansas State Representative David Ray, a Republican representing District 69, is the co-sponsor of a bill that would make it easier for cities to create entertainment districts.
“If your city or county and you want to have an entertainment district, our law actually says you first have to levy an advertising and promotion tax. That’s a tax on restaurants and hotels, sometimes called the hamburger tax,” he said.
He wants to see that tax requirement go away, which would mean any local government could create an entertainment district simply by passing a resolution.
“It really made no sense to me why any unit of government should have to levy a tax just in order to establish an entertainment district,” he said. “I think that requirement could lead to more taxes than people want or need.”
The state legislature passed this law allowing entertainment districts in wet counties back in 2019. Scott Hardin with the Arkansas Department of Finance said between 30 and 40 communities already had the hamburger tax in place.
He said by removing the tax requirement, it would be good for the many small communities around the state.
“There may be a small community that doesn’t necessarily have hotels or even much tourism, but they do have a couple of local restaurants and maybe a bar and they think that this could really benefit them,” he said.”
The new Bellview Entertainment District in Rogers is essentially in effect as the city council approves it. However, the city does have to put up signage establishing the district’s boundaries.
You do have to get a wristband from one of the alcohol-serving businesses showing that you are participating in the district and will adhere to its rules.
The Bellview district will operate from 11 a.m. until midnight seven days a week. The ordinance passed Tuesday also amends the Railyard district’s hours, pushing back the end time until midnight every day of the week.
State Rep. Ray’s bill has been referred to the Committee on House Rules.