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Liquor licenses now cheaper to obtain in village



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July 30, 2014 - By Meg Peters

Review Staff Writer

In the past, downtown Lake Orion restaurants that wanted to obtain a liquor license had to purchase one through escrow from Oakland County, costing close to $75,000.

Now, a restaurant looking to open a beer, wine or spirits establishment in the DDA district of downtown Lake Orion can purchase a license for about $20,000.  

Village council wined and dined this savings method July 28 at the council meeting with the authorization of the Downtown Development Authority District (DDA) Redevelopment Project Area.

The DDA District Redevelopment Project allows 25-seat-restaurants or greater to purchase a redevelopment license at a cost savings equaling that of approximately 2,500 fifth bottles of Jose Cuervo tequila.

"$75,000 is a lot for a restaurant or a developer moving here," DDA Director Suzanne Perrault said. "We can save restaurants $50,000 right off the bat just by opening up in the village, so that's the incentive."

Lockhart's BBQ, who plans to open another BBQ restaurant in the current village hall by the beginning of 2015, is already on board, and Perrault said one more interested license pursuer has already contacted her.

Interested businesses would have to be a restaurant, so retail shops and salons are not eligible for the district.

Public Act 270 of 2014—Michigan Liquor Control Code, effective July 2 by the state, re-establishes a village's eligibility for the redevelopment license.

Lake Orion authorized a redevelopment district in 2011 under Public Act 501 of 2006, which was thwarted when villages and townships were excluded from it afterwards. Public Act 270 re-establishes villages and townships as eligible under the same requirements.

First a redevelopment district must be established, which council approved Monday night as the DDA district, or more commonly the commercial properties of downtown Lake Orion. 

For every $200,000 invested in the redevelopment district over the past three to five years on real and personal property, a village may obtain one additional license.

Then, an interested developer or restaurateur can apply to the village for a redevelopment liquor license if they can prove they are investing a minimum of $75,000 in the building located within the district and if the restaurant offers at least 25 seats. If said business meets the requirements, village council can approve the new liquor license.

"By offering the less expensive redevelopment license, we are ensuring a minimum of $75,000 in the property and are providing an economic development tool that can be used to recruit new businesses," Perrault told council before approval.

Now it is up to the restaurants to move on in and mix it up in downtown Lake Orion.

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