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A deep dive on social districts

Southwest Michigan cities pour resources into outdoor common areas

  • 7 min to read

ST. JOSEPH — As the COVID-19 pandemic raged and the world stood still, bars and restaurants in Michigan suffered substantial revenue losses due to mandatory closings.

Upon reopening under capacity limits, some were able to offer outdoor service, but many did not have a suitable area to use for outdoor drinking and dining. Meanwhile, neighboring states began reopening sooner than Michigan, or had laws in place that allowed outdoor drinking in common areas.


A social district is being proposed along Pleasant Street, east of Main Street in St. Joseph.


Lazy Ballerina Winery, with tasting rooms in downtown St. Joseph and Bridgman, is among several businesses that will be applying for a social district permit.

Contact:, 932-0359, Twitter @HPSwidwa