Mayor Paul Soglin went before the Alcohol License Review Committee Tuesday to request a moratorium on alcohol licenses in the State Street and Capitol Square area until the completion of a retail study.
Specifically, the ALRC would not grant any new Class A, B or C alcohol licenses, no new entertainment licenses and no physical expansions of existing alcohol establishments, according to a memo Soglin sent to the committee.
The memo also said transfers of alcohol licenses to new locations would not be permitted. But after Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, asked about Paul’s Club, which transferred locations, Soglin said he would be open to the idea.
During the meeting, Soglin referenced a Planning Department report that said State Street and the Capitol Square has lost business and total traditional retail square footage over the last 20 years.
“What’s happened is the spread of restaurants, particularly bars and entertainment places, is driving out the retail,” Soglin said. “What I am asking is we got a joint effort here between the city council, the plan commission, the ALRC and we just slow down the rapid spread of liquor licenses while we study and figure out how to solve this problem of saving retail.”
The city is in the final stages of hiring a consultant to conduct a retail study on the area that will take at least a year.
“I fear that we will continue to lose traditional retail on and around State Street and the Capitol Square,” Soglin said. “The public has invested tens of millions of dollars in the State Street Mall and I strongly believe that we will lose the vitality of the street that we worked so hard to build if we don’t act before the completion of the study.”