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Swampscott seeks businesses for seven new liquor licenses

SWAMPSCOTT — With seven liquor licenses waiting to be used, Swampscott has its sights set on more restaurants.

The seaside town is looking to revamp the Humphrey Street, Vinnin Square, and train depot areas, according to Town Administrator Sean Fitzgerald. There is a vision for marketplace spaces that hold different businesses working together to help the town bring in more commercial revenue, which would reduce the residential real estate tax base, he said.

“We are looking to bring in more diversity with bistros, little shops and restaurants,” Fitzgerald said. “We want fun and inspired culinary entrepreneurs to take a look at Swampscott and bring some of their best ideas.”

Fees for the open licenses include $2,200 for package stores serving all alcohol, $1,900 for package stores selling only beer and wine, $2,400 for restaurants or establishments selling all alcoholic beverages, and $2,100 for businesses only interested in serving up beer and wine.

The town is looking to strike a balance with how it coordinates land-use responsibilities, said Fitzgerald. In regards to Humphrey Street, along the waterfront, Fitzgerald said there are a number of properties on the street that could be outstanding restaurant locations.

Angela Ippolito, chairwoman of the town’s Planning Board, said there is ample opportunity for development growth where Hawthorne By the Sea is located.

“I see it as a prime place for restaurants or little shops where you can buy food and there is  variety of businesses all wound into one,” she said. “If we have the right idea, we can really pull it off. I feel it would be successful.”

When it comes to Vinnin Square, Fitzgerald said the area is the perfect fit for a marketplace similar to the one in Lynnfield. With the housing that strategically sits next to the square, he said there are a number of mixed-use business concepts that could easily be integrated into the area.

The busy square needs a more detailed focus, Fitzgerald said. He is hopeful of creating a strategic alignment for more commercial properties that support pedestrian movement and better parking.

“When I think about the square, I think about the Glover property that has sat unused for a number of years,” he said. “How do we activate that property to bring it back to life?”

Fitzgerald and Ippolito agreed that, with a little tender loving care, the train depot could be a way to bring more outside patrons. As the MBTA becomes more reliable and dependable, Fitzgerald said the area is a great spot for more bistros or pubs to attract outsiders.

In the last 50 years, the town has converted a number of commercial properties into residential properties and it has had costly effects on the town’s tax base, said Fitzgerald. Last year, the Board of Selectmen voted to reduce the residential and commercial split by five points in an attempt to make the town more business friendly.

“The idea is to have a bunch of businesses combine efforts and work together to become a community focal point, especially along the waterfront,” said Ippolito. “We are trying to meet with potential business owners and brainstorm how we can work together.”

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