Proposal to allow liquor licenses in all of Boston

A new push to give Boston 152 new liquor licenses could finally bring some nightlife to a community that was left out in the past, a state representative said.

When I was advocating strongly for this several years ago, I thought they would end up in Mattapan and none did,” said state Rep. Russell Holmes (D-Boston). “It is very frustrating, but that’s why we’re having a plan that includes every neighborhood.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh and at-large City Councilor Ayanna Pressley are proposing a bill that would grant 105 alcohol licenses to seven neighborhoods — Mattapan, Dorchester, East Boston, Hyde Park, Jamaica Plain, Mission Hill and Roxbury — with each neighborhood getting five licenses over the next three years. The licenses would cost $3,000, instead of the $500,000 a license can command on the open market. But these cannot be resold and will revert to the city — and the designated neighborhood — if a restaurant goes out of business.

The proposal would also create 15 licenses for Main Streets districts and 30 citywide licenses over the next three years and licenses specifically for the Lawn on D and the Boston Center for the Arts.

The state has capped Boston’s alcohol licenses since the 1930s and any increase must first go through the City Council and then the Legislature. Boston received 75 new licenses in 2014, which have all since been awarded.

And though those licenses were restricted to the same seven neighborhoods there was no equal division among those communities, Holmes said, and Mattapan wound up with no licenses. That has continued to hurt business development in the area, he said.

Mattapan needs to have sit-down restaurants,” Holmes said. “I think this would transform the entire community. You wouldn’t have Mattapan Square going dark at night.”

This balanced approach to licensing ensures neighborhoods historically disadvantaged by the liquor-license process will receive their fair share of licenses, while also providing an option for larger establishments to receive licenses without hurting our small businesses,” Walsh said in a statement.

This legislation gives every neighborhood an equal shot at a license. The hope is if the city creates a diversity of options for restaurateurs then we’ll see diversity reflected in the business districts,” said Eric White, Pressley’s director of policy.

Holmes said he thought the Legislature would likely address the proposal in the current session, possibly in a larger econo- mic development bill.