Last night I had the opportunity to attend the Election Night Watch Party hosted by the Keep the Dollars in Dallas Campaign (KDID). If you aren’t familiar with KDID, they are the group that was formed to support the petition and election effort to change the current alcoholic beverage sales laws in the City of Dallas. And, if you haven’t heard, the voters elected to pass both of the wet/dry propositions on the ballot.
What does drinking have to do with real estate (wow, that’s open to lots of interpretation)? But the main theme here is that changing the antiquated wet/dry laws in the City of Dallas will help create a level playing field for all developers, brokers, restaurants and retailers in Dallas. And the local commercial real estate community, having a lot at stake here, got involved with the cause early.
Over the last few months, the KDID Commercial Real Estate Committee, led by Mickey Ashmore, President and CEO of United Commercial Realty, raised $106,000 toward the campaign.
For those who are not familiar with the controversy surrounding the current laws, here’s a primer:
Dallas is the only major city in the U.S. still operating under wet-dry rules created in the 1800s. Much of the city itself is currently deemed to be “dry.” This means that retailers and restaurants located within the dry area cannot sell any type of alcohol for off-premise consumption and restaurants can only sell alcoholic beverages to patrons who join a “private club.”
The fact that large parts of Dallas are “dry” has prohibited new retail development and sent sales tax dollars the City could have garnered to the suburbs. Currently, certain parts of Dallas are more attractive to developers because laws allow beer and wine sales in these areas, thus attracting more grocery stores, restaurants, discount centers, warehouse clubs and other major retailers.
“This is an important issue for our industry. It affects us personally and professionally. We have all had deals that were impacted or killed because of the current patchwork of wet/dry areas in Dallas. If you are doing business in the City of Dallas, you can’t afford not to get involved,” said Ashmore.
He continued, “I personally know of several retailers and restaurants that probably will not come to Dallas until this law is changed.”
In addition to the obvious advantages to the retail and real estate community, the City of Dallas stands to recover $20 to $30 million in critical sales tax revenue. These new revenues would help close the City’s budget shortfall, and could help avoid a tax increase on Dallas homeowners.