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A ribbon cutting ceremony was held on Michigan Avenue in front of the Jackson Area Chamber of Commerce on Friday celebrating the opening of the Jackson Social District.  DDA Executive Director Cory Mays wields the giant scissors.  Photo by Jeff Steers, JTV News.

By Jeff Steers
JTV News

(March 17, 2023 1:24 PM) An idea created to help bar and restaurant owners during the Pandemic is now coming to fruition in the city of Jackson. 

Jackson’s Social District kicked off Friday – St. Patrick’s Day – with a ribbon cutting in downtown Jackson Friday. 

Jackson Downtown Develop Authority Director Cory Mays told Bart Hawley on the “Bart Hawley Show” that the idea for a Social District came about a couple of years ago during the Pandemic.

“Outdoor seating (for bars and restaurants) was wildly popular and helped the businesses during the Pandemic … this is another attraction,” Mays said. “We trust that people are going to make wise choices and follow the rules.”

Residents may purchase and consume alcoholic beverages in the official Social District cup to travel within the designated social district area. Each cup only has a one-time use. 

The Social District will take place Thursday – Friday from noon to midnight and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to midnight on designated days and holidays. 

The businesses participating are Axe Play, The Dirty Bird, Nite Lite, Junkyard Dog, Ogma Brewing Company, Grand River Brewery, Veritas, and The Crazy Cowboy. Mays said he expects more bars and restaurants to participate in the near future. 

This is made possible by Jackson Downtown Development Authority, City of Jackson, Jackson Anchor Initiative, and Experience Jackson.

Here are the rules for the Jackson Social District residents should be aware of.

The rules of Jackson Social District 


1. The Social District & Commons Areas shall be open for operation Thursday and Friday from noon – midnight, and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. – midnight. 

2. The Social District and commons areas shall also be open on select holidays, in addition to the day before and day after any designated holidays (as approved by the city manager). If designated day(s) falls on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday the Social District holiday hours shall be noon – midnight. 

3. No tents or lighting shall be installed within the Social District or commons areas without City permission. 

4. No amplified sound shall be used in the Social District or commons areas without City permission. 

5. Umbrellas may be installed, but shall not be mechanically fastened to street or sidewalk surfaces. 

6. Dogs are permitted in the Social District or commons areas (the City’s leash laws still apply, as does the obligation to pick-up after your dog). 


1. Pedestrian access shall be maintained to all buildings in the Social District and Commons Areas as required by the City of Jackson. 

2. Emergency access shall be maintained to all adjacent properties in the Social District and commons areas, as required by the City of Jackson. 


1. Alcoholic beverages are allowed in the Commons Areas only in accordance with a Social District Permit issued by the Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC), any accompanying MLCC regulations, and City of Jackson requirements. 

2. Alcoholic beverages shall only be purchased at the licensed premises of a Social District Permit holder, and must be consumed in designated commons areas. 

3. Alcoholic beverages consumed in commons areas are required to be in designated cups, per the requirements of the MLCC and the City of Jackson. 4. Social District permit holders are responsible for the sale of alcohol on their licensed premises in accordance with their individual Social District Permits and all MLCC rules and regulations, including confirming the consumer’s identification, and prohibiting the sale of alcohol to intoxicated parties. 

5. The City of Jackson Police Department will patrol commons areas as assigned for compliance with MLCC and City of Jackson rules and regulations. Social distancing and Covid-19 


1. All users of Social District and commons areas shall follow state of Michigan social distancing requirements. 

2. All users of Social District and commons areas shall comply with State of Michigan Executive Orders, including but not limited to, complying with limits on social gatherings and requirements related to face coverings. 

Seating, Tables, and Related Furnishings

1. The City of Jackson and the Downtown Development Authority shall provide and maintain barricades/fencing to designate outdoor dining areas for restaurants/bars, both on the sidewalk and in limited on-street areas. Individual Commons Areas will not be designated with additional barricades/fencing. 

2. Seating, tables, and related furnishings that have been provided by individual Social District permit holders shall be the sole responsibility of the Social District permit holders. 

3. The City of Jackson and the Downtown Development Authority are not responsible for providing, deployment, maintenance, operations, or security for any seating, tables, or related furnishings that are deployed within the Social District. 

4. Related furnishings are defined as planters, additional fencing (not provided by the City or DDA), spatial delineators, or other elements that are deployed as part of a seating expansion within the Social District. 


1. The City of Jackson and the Downtown Development Authority will provide signage that designates commons areas and Social District boundaries. 

Trash and Recycling

1. The City of Jackson will provide temporary trash cans and/or recycling cans within commons areas and/or at commons areas boundaries, and will maintain these trash/recycling cans and conduct trash removal operations at these locations for the duration of the Social District and commons areas operation so long as it is economically feasible to do so. 

2. At locations where existing trash cans are already installed, the City of Jackson will continue their current maintenance and trash removal operations. 


1. The management and maintenance plan shall be included in any future Social District reviews conducted by the City of Jackson, the Downtown Development Authority, or other entities. 

The map of the Downtown Jackson Social District.

Signage explaining the Social District placed near participating establishments.

David Buchanan, one of the St. Patrick’s Day revelers, celebrates the opening of the Downtown Jackson Social District. Photos by Jeff Steers, JTV News.


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