Dunwoody residents may be able to enjoy two new open-container districts in the coming years. 

During a May 24 meeting, the Dunwoody City Council heard the first read of an amendment to the city’s alcoholic beverages code which would create two new entertainment districts where visitors could walk around freely with alcoholic drinks. The city established its first open-container district in the Dunwoody Village in March of 2020. 

The first new district would be at the existing Ashford Lane Shopping Center, located at 4531 Olde Perimeter Way. The second would be at the future High Street Development, which has not yet been built, but would be located on 36 acres at the northwest intersection of Perimeter Center Parkway and Hammond Drive. 

Planning and Zoning Manager Paul Leonhardt said the Ashford Lane location is undergoing a major renovation to become more of an entertainment destination in Dunwoody. According to the property’s website, those updates include a new food hall, more greenspace, and new retail. 

The High Street project, which Leonhardt said is expected to break ground later this year, includes 150,000 square feet of retail space, 40,000 square feet of new office space, and about 600 luxury apartments in its first phase of construction, according to its website.  

While Leonhardt said High Street is expected to break ground on its first phase this year, according to city spokesperson Jennifer Boettcher, the developer – GID Development Group – has not yet picked up its approved building permits from the city.

Leonhardt also discussed three proposed changes to the alcoholic beverage section of the city’s code that would apply to all of the city’s open-container districts. Two changes would prohibit visitors from taking their drinks in parking garages or construction areas. 

The third change would remove the requirement for open containers to have stickers. When the Dunwoody Village entertainment district was created, businesses were required to sell those drinks in a clear cup with a sticker that showed the beverage was approved for outdoor drinking. Leonhardt said the addition of two more open-container areas would require more work on the city administration’s part because the city provides those stickers to the restaurants. 

“It’s also not a foolproof method to ensure that only licensed businesses operate,” he said. “People can just refill on their own. So we would submit for your consideration to strike that requirement out of the code for all districts.” 

Mayor Lynn Deutsch said she felt “very strongly” that the city should not get rid of the stickers. She said since the Dunwoody Village open-container rule went into effect during the pandemic, she would like to see the sticker method tested out more thoroughly. 

“I know there’s been some confusion and there [are] some administrative challenges, but I would like the opportunity to figure that out,” she said. “Part of the reason the stickers are important is that we don’t want outside alcohol. We want people to buy from the businesses.”

Councilmember Pam Tallmadge agreed with Deutsch about the stickers, but Councilmember Tom Lambert said he thought the stickers were the least important part of the ordinance and didn’t think they would help or hurt enforcement.

“The people who are going to go around the rules are going to go around the rules whether we have stickers or not,” he said. “I don’t necessarily see a reason for the stickers.” 

Deutsch said she would rather stick with the stickers for now, and, if necessary, change the rule later. The amendment is expected to be back before the City Council at its June 14 meeting. 

Sammie Purcell

Sammie Purcell is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers.