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Beatrice’s Mercantile Building now has the ability to become an indoor entertainment district.

Entertainment districts refer to a common area where eating and drinking are allowed, such as the Railyard in Lincoln, and the Aksarben Village and Capitol District in Omaha.

The Mercantile Building currently houses Stone Hollow Brewery, Smoke and Fire Cigars and a boutique called The Gorgeous Hanger. Current zoning ordinances only allow alcoholic beverages in the brewery, meaning patrons can’t carry their drinks while looking at the other stores.

The Beatrice City Council approved an ordinance in the city code that gives the council to designate and regulate the entertainment districts.

City Attorney Abby Stark said that Hydo Properties, the owners of the building, must complete a permit application defining the commons area between the businesses in the building.

The permit would cost $100 and last for two years, and renewal would cost $50 every two years thereafter.

“All of us in the administration side would make sure that everything complies with state statute regarding entertainment districts,” Stark said. “At which point we would approve the application and have a public hearing here with you guys, after which you would vote to either designate the area as an entertainment district or not. If you designate it as an entertainment district, we have to file that with the liquor control commission.”

Stark said that after being designated an entertainment district, the businesses within the Mercantile Building can apply for an entertainment district license, allowing patrons to walk throughout the building with their alcoholic beverages. However, Nebraska legislature requires a prominent logo on cups in entertainment districts that shows where the alcohol was purchased from.

Pending approval of the application, Mayor Stan Wirth said in a previous meeting that he believes the Mercantile Building would be the first indoor entertainment district in Nebraska.

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