Exploring DORA, a new tool to revitalize downtown Lima

By Sam Shriver - sshriver@limanews.com

LIMA — Lima City Council will begin discussing the prospects of a downtown refreshment area (DORA).

The DORA would ease or make more accessible outdoor dining in front establishments holding liquor permits and allow them to serve alcohol in a plastic cup. Each business would have a different cup and is only good for that day. The creation of the DORA would relieve these establishments of current requirements for fencing around a dining area.

In addition to the established DORA hours, the Lima DORA would provide the ability for a special permit during special events held outside the established DORA hours of operation allowing individuals to walk around the DORA boundaries with an alcoholic beverage purchased from a liquor permit holding establishment. This authority would be limited initially to Toast of the City, Rally in the Square, Square Fair, Chocolate Walk and Holiday Walk.

Downtown Lima, Inc. is spearheading the move for DORA.

“We believe that it’s going to enhance the experience of those visiting downtown. It’s going to increase walkability in our downtown. Also in cities where the DORA has been enacted in the past, they’ve all seen an increase in economic development, making it a more desirable place for new businesses to locate, or maybe the businesses that are already there to maybe expand some services to better serve the people that are now visiting the area because of the DORA. It oftentimes helps fill storefronts, which we’re pretty excited about as well,” said Shaunna Basinger, executive director of Downtown Lima, Inc.

Mayor David Berger and his chief of staff, Sharetta Smith, submitted a letter to council, outlining the request.

On Monday night, city council referred the matter to the Economic and Community Development committee. They’ll further discuss the issue at 6 p.m. on Feb. 15.

“The purpose of the City’s DORA would be to stimulate economic development for businesses and property owners within the DORA, as well as the City of Lima as a whole,” wrote Berger in the letter to Lima council.

Interest in the DORA goes back to September of 2018.

“There was a group of folks from the administration and from Downtown Lima, Inc., that visited a couple of communities — Middletown and Hamilton — and talked with community and business leaders in those communities. We were actually trying to prepare to introduce it last year about this time, but then COVID hit and it really kind of derailed everything from a timing perspective,” said Berger.

Now that there’s a vaccine out and more and more businesses are opening back up it was “the right time to bring it back for the community to consider,” Berger said.

The whole DORA district would encompass more than 113 acres.

“We wanted to make sure that the restaurants and bars in the downtown, in fact, had an opportunity to participate and that it would be welcomed by other neighboring businesses as well. There was outreach done with businesses in order to draw the boundaries of what we’re recommending, and we think it will be welcomed,” Berger said.

According to the application, the outline of the district would be: Starting at the intersection of Central Street and the east/west railroad north of Wayne Street and traveling down the north/south railroad until the river. Moving west along the river over Elizabeth Street and up to Market Street. Then over one block to West Street and up one block and then back over Elizabeth Street. Then north up to North Street Then up to the alley north of the railroad and back down Main Street to Wayne Street and over the Central Street meeting back at the intersection of Central Street and the railroad.

In other business, council:

• Approved a mutual aid agreement between the Lima Police Department and the Allen County Sheriff’s Office to combine the two department’s Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Team.

• Approved the budget for the City of Lima for the fiscal year ending Dec. 31, 2021.

• Approved the leasing of a vacant city-owned property at Elm and S. Central to CDC Real Estate Holding LLC for use as a dog park.


By Sam Shriver


Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.

Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.

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