Breaking News
More () »

Lake Norman social district gets approval for expansion

Cornelius leaders unanimously voted in favor of approving the successful Lake Norman social district. They're also considering adding more to boost small businesses.

CORNELIUS, N.C. — Cornelius leaders signed off on a plan to expand the town's Lake Noman Social District to include the Cain Center for the Arts and Cain Park. 

The Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the motion, which will expand the area where customers can get a drink from a bar or restaurant and carry it outside. Cornelius was one of the first towns in the Charlotte area to create a social district, which first became legal in North Carolina in September 2021. Hickory, Kannapolis and Mooresville soon joined in, creating spaces where public drinking is allowed while promoting local businesses. 

Click here to sign up for the daily Wake Up Charlotte newsletter

Charlotte doesn't have any social districts yet, but an application was submitted for Plaza Midwood to become the Queen City's first after city council approved their creation last year. 

Deputy Town Manager Wayne Herron presented the expansion to the board Monday, explaining the social district will now extend to the plaza in front of the Cain Center and to Cain Park. Herron said Cornelius officials visited the social district in Kannapolis to learn more about adding proper signage and other information for guests. 

The town of Cornelius will require participating businesses to follow these rules to be involved with the social district: 

  • Permittees must apply for a social district permit, which is free. 
  • Non-permittee businesses in or adjacent to the district wanting to engage with customers must apply for a social district permit. For example, a hair salon that doesn't serve alcohol but would allow guests to bring alcohol into the business. 
  • Each applicant must have at least $1 million in liability insurance and name the town of Cornelius, its town officers, employees and agents as additional insured. 

Herron and some commissioners said they've received interest from businesses in other parts of town about the potential of creating new social districts, such as near Jetton Road. 

"Everybody's excited, we didn't get one complaint," Cas Matos, owner of Thigs Cocktail Bar, said, telling WCNC Charlotte the temporary social district on St. Patrick's Day was a huge success for his business. 

Cornelius is also looking at new rules that will require businesses to provide cups to patrons that not only include the social district logo but also the business's logo, which is being done in Kannapolis. Social district permits are subject to removal for non-compliance at any time and the ordinance is punishable as a misdemeanor. 

An officer with the Cornelius Police Department said the agency received zero calls from within the district that would lead to safety concerns.

Before You Leave, Check This Out