As someone invested in downtown Fargo on many levels, I urge the Fargo City Commission to consider the future of downtown before issuing additional Class Z liquor licenses. If the commission moves forward in issuing further Class Z licenses - those which don't require food, we set a worrisome precedent for downtown for a plethora of reasons.
With the ever-mounting rent prices in downtown, it will be most feasible for bar owners to pay these higher rates. If Class Z licenses become easier to obtain, more individuals will look to downtown to open liquor only bars. With the pressure to fill downtown's vacant and renovated spaces, property owners will not hesitate to lease to these individuals.
With a mounting number of bars, safety becomes a more realistic issue in downtown. Continuing to issue liquor licenses for downtown puts increased stress on the already limited resources of the Fargo Police Department. At what point do we decide we've reached a saturation of bars in downtown? With more bars comes greater competition and lower prices. These things culminate in higher rates of binge drinking and more troublesome activity. Imagine pub crawls with 15 participating establishments rather than 10.
Safety concerns will greatly affect the quality of life of residents of downtown Fargo. Downtown is a neighborhood just like any other. Downtown depends on its residents to thrive. There are projects in place to bring a diverse mix of residents to downtown, however, if downtown becomes infiltrated with more bars, it will be harder to attract these residents.
Twenty-five years ago, downtown was all bars. Since then, we've invested in downtown and made great efforts to take downtown away from being a bar-only environment and instead make it into a model downtown rich with shops, restaurants, services, housing, as well as drinking establishments. It's become a place where one can do it all. Why would we want to revert to where we were in the 1990s rather than continue to encourage entrepreneurship and building a community-oriented environment that we can be proud of?
Downtown is our community's front porch. It's where we take our friends and family from out of town. It's where we host big community events.
It's gone from being desolate to what is now a model downtown. If we have any question as to what a downtown overpopulated with bars would become, we only need to consider where we were at several decades ago. Downtown is uniquely Fargo. It's what sets us apart. We should continue to work to make downtown an even more vibrant community. We should continue to strive to make it safer. We should continue to make it even more family-friendly. We should continue to use it as a lure to recruit talent to our community.
As a passionate downtown advocate, I strongly urge the Fargo City Commission to think carefully before approving additional Class Z licenses for downtown Fargo.
Danz is manager of Zandbroz Variety in downtown Fargo.