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Quincy seeks to double liquor licenses in downtown

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  November 19, 2012 02:07 PM

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As plans come together to add restaurants to a revitalized Quincy center, city officials are planning a key piece of the development by starting the process to add more liquor licenses.

Currently, the city has 23 all-alcohol licenses in the area of Quincy Center. The current legislation, which would first have to be approved by the city council and then by the state, is seeking to add 27 more.

The additional licenses would only be available for businesses within Quincy Center, and would be for 23 "all-alcohol" licenses for restaurants, two "all-alcohol licenses" for innkeepers, a beer and wine license, and a package store license.

According to Mayoral spokesperson Christopher Walker, the addition of more liquor licenses has been the plan since the start of the redevelopment process.

“It’s something that from the beginning of this process would be a piece of the overall development plan,” Walker said. “Having liquor licenses available is very important as leasing of ground floor restaurants and retail does become available. It’s important for tenants to know there are licenses available going forward.”

According to Ken Narva, a partner in the city's developer Street-Works, the beverage component will set the stage for the downtown.

"We will be doing 150,000 feet of food. It's one of the foundations of what we think makes for good downtown neighborhoods. So that’s 35-45 food establishments of all kinds. And a majority need access to some form of alcohol availability," Narva said.

The city administration will be going over the details of the liquor license request at a city council meeting Nov. 19, and most likely it will be put into committee for further discussion.

There, over the next few months, city officials hope to work out any problems or questions with the council in order to move the question on to the state legislature, which would have to approve the additional licenses.

Typically, unless a town or city requests otherwise, liquor licensees are given to communities based on population.

In Quincy, there are 100 all-alcohol licenses presently. An additional 19 restaurants have licenses to serve wine and beer.

While the request would more than double the number of liquor licenses available to establishments within the city’s center, having upwards of 50 alcohol licenses is not uncommon for a city center of Quincy’s size, Walker said.

Kendall Square and Harvard Square have a similar number of licenses. Places like the North End in Boston probably have double that amount.

“This is just symbolic of the atmosphere and th kind of neighborhood that will be created with the development. There will be a heavy focus on restaurants and neighborhood goods and services,” Walker said.

Additionally, if you look at the density expansion, Quincy already has over 20 licenses for a sparse downtown, Narva said. While Street-Works is adding 3.5 million feet of new development, the additional liquor license request is only a small portion of that.

While nothing is finalized as of yet, the hope is to move the legislation to the state by January, Walker said.

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