Portland has a riverfront district.

Portland City Council on Monday voted to establish a “riverfront” district in an effort to drive economic development in the downtown area.

Consultant Ed Curtin of CWC Latitudes, who has been working with Portland Redevelopment Commission, explained the riverfront district as an area within 1,500 feet (about a quarter-mile) of a river in which communities can provide additional liquor licenses, at a lower cost, beyond the standard cap in order to spur restaurant development. The cost of the application is $250 and the overall cost of the license is significantly lower than going through the regular process.

The city’s redevelopment commission in October voted to seek city council approval for the establishment of the district. It approved guidelines to allow up to five liquor licenses. Businesses receiving such a license would be required to sell at least $150,000 in food annually and have more than 50% of their sales be food. Eligible businesses would have to be open for at least 300 days each year.

The district covers Meridian Street from Water Street to about Arch Street and also extends west along Walnut Street to just past Commerce Street and Main Street to between Ship and Main Streets.

The liquor licenses are not transferable and they require renewal on an annual basis, which gives the city some control over how they are used, Curtin said. He added that the goal is to create activity in the downtown area after regular business hours.

“For me, these tend to be a lot more about economic development than they do about selling alcohol,” said Curtin, noting that the process is a little easier for restaurants and can help them become profitable. “It’s an opportunity. It’s one that you all have a lot more control over.”

He added that the riverfront district can be expanded in the future if the city chooses to do so.