The Indiana General Assembly may give the town of Lowell an additional tool to help revitalize its historic downtown.
On Wednesday, the Senate Public Policy Committee voted 9-0 for legislation authorizing the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission to issue up to 10 additional permits for restaurants to sell beer, wine and liquor in downtown Lowell.
Senate Bill 305 directs the town council to designate an area where the permits may be issued that includes a historic town hall and a public park, which appears to target for development Main Street, Commercial Avenue and the north-south roads in between.
State Sen. Rick Niemeyer, R-Lowell, the sponsor of the proposal, said town officials have big plans to improve downtown Lowell, and the extra alcohol sale permits, along with other federal, state and local resources, will go a long way toward making it happen.
"They're putting a lot of effort and time into this area, and they're doing a really good job," Niemeyer said.
John Yelkich, Town Council vice president, told the committee that putting additional restaurants, not bars, in downtown Lowell will keep more money in the local economy, boost downtown activity generally and improve local property values.
"Right now we're lacking a sit-down dinner restaurant and we're trying to engage that in our downtown," Yelkich said.
Lowell Town Manager Craig Hendrix said the town already is working with a developer to identify and prepare downtown buildings for reuse as restaurants in the hope of attracting additional retailers and more people to downtown.
"We're trying to give all the opportunities we can to get them downtown," Hendrix said. "It's a very walkable community."
The measure is due to be considered next week by the full Senate for a decision on advancing it to the House, and then potentially to Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb to be signed into law.
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A historic marker designates the downtown Lowell historic district. Legislation advancing at the Indiana Statehouse would authorize the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission to issue up to 10 additional permits for restaurants to sell beer, wine and liquor in downtown Lowell.