Holyoke Receives 13 New Liquor Licenses for Restaurants in Center City

On August 21, Governor Deval Patrick officially signed a bill into law that grants the City of Holyoke 13 additional liquor licenses for the downtown area, located specifically within the four neighborhoods that comprise the Center City of Holyoke’s Urban Renewal Plan. The licenses are designed to attract restaurants to downtown Holyoke, providing new development and jobs while enhancing the vibrancy of our urban core. In an effort to protect current license holders, many who paid tens of thousands of dollars for their license, these new licenses will not be considered assets that can be sold or transferred, as is the case with existing ones.  There is also a one time fee of $10,000 that will be used to fund other economic development projects in downtown.

“I applaud Senator Don Humason and Representative Aaron Vega for their hard work in crafting this bill, and thank our state legislature for voting to pass it. These additional licenses will prove invaluable to our goal of attracting restaurants to our downtown. Even before this bill’s passage, we had received interest from many restaurateurs who were considering Holyoke as a location. These additional liquor licenses make Holyoke an even more attractive place to open up shop. This bill is a great illustration of our long-term, effective approach to governing, and an example of collaboration between our state and city leaders. This important step is part of a much bigger vision, and is made possible by the strategic investments already being made throughout the downtown,” Mayor Morse said.

The original order was introduced in 2013 by then Councilor Aaron Vega, and received the unanimous support of the City Council and Mayor. It then was introduced to the state legislature as a home rule petition. This was necessary step as Holyoke had already reached its quota limit, a number based on population.

“This is exactly the tool we need to offer potential developers, and it will complement the investment the Commonwealth has already made in Holyoke. Residents want to see more variety to go along with the good food and entertainment that is already downtown, and these new licenses will attract prospective restaurateurs. We can offer these developers affordability and allow ourselves some oversight into their plans,” Rep. Vega said.

“It is immensely satisfying to be able to push legislation through the Senate that I know will have a direct and positive economic impact for the City of Holyoke,” Senator Don Humason said. “These additional liquor licenses will be specifically targeted to enhance, promote, and develop Holyoke’s Canal and Arts District.  I am happy to work with Mayor Morse, the Holyoke City Council, and Representative Vega in passing this legislation and laying the groundwork for this new entertainment district.”

Now that Holyoke has received approval from Beacon Hill, the Redevelopment Authority will work with the License Board to create policies that will regulate the use of these licenses. This will include designing criteria for what will be considered a restaurant and how special conditions can be enforced.

“By acquiring these additional liquor licenses, we are fulfilling a major component of our City’s Urban Renewal Plan that aims to create an active Center City with entertainment and dining options available on nights and weekends.  We want to encourage developers to make that initial investment in downtown Holyoke but understand the costs that can come with rehabilitating and developing many of the buildings downtown.  These liquor licenses are meant to help those investing in Holyoke succeed and we couldn’t have done it without the support of the Mayor, the City Council and our State delegation,” said Marcos Marrero from Holyoke’s Office of Planning and Economic Development.