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Bricktown Property Purchase Preventing New Bars, Liquor Stores

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Michael Konopasek, News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Students may be rocking out, but they're also keeping new bars and liquor stores from building up Bricktown. The University of Central Oklahoma is buying the building that's home to the school's Academy of Contemporary Music, and that purchase is triggering a state law which is causing the prevention.

The law states new bars and liquor stores cannot be located within 300 feet of a church or school and that includes universities.

Bricktown is a place to let loose. For many people that means a couple drinks at one of the many bars. But, a recent real estate transaction has already prevented at least two bars from opening in the area.

"Bricktown is the state's premiere entertainment district and if new bars can't go into Bricktown, then it's a problem," said Mark Vanlandingham of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce.

The issue started a few months ago when UCO started the process of buying a building along Oklahoma Ave. The university says it just wanted a good location for its music program and actually prefers the nightlife venues.

"We so not want anyone to be unable to start a business because of our presence in Bricktown," said UCO Spokesman Charlie Johnson.

The more than 25-year-old law will not force bars in the area to close, it just prevents new ones from opening.

"I just hope that the rumor is dispelled that this is the end of Bricktown business as we know it because … it only affects bars and package stores," said John Maisch of ABLE.

John Maisch works for the organization responsible for enforcing liquor laws (ABLE). He says he's open to finding a solution to the issue. UCO says it's working with ABLE and the chamber of commerce to petition the State of Oklahoma to change the law to allow for an exception in Bricktown.

"We've reviewed the legislation the chamber of commerce has come with and we think it's acceptable … something law enforcement can live with, but again, it's if the legislature wants it," said Maisch.

The chamber of commerce says it plans to introduce new legislation in the next session to allow new bars to come to the area. The proposed legislation could exclude colleges and universities from the church and school provision.

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