WORCESTER — City license commissioners are expected to award five new package store licenses at a special meeting next week.
The licenses were awarded to the city by the state after Worcester's population rose from 181,045 to 206,518 over a decade, according to the 2020 census.
The 14% population increase brought additional full-package store licenses along with more beer-and-wine sales licenses from the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission.
Commissioners on Thursday heard from six businesses vying for the package store licenses.
Among those hoping to operate package stores are:
Jeet Investment, Inc., 504 Cambridge St., which currently operates with a malt-and-wine license but hopes to upgrade to an all-alcohol sales license. Owners said they plan to add 350 square feet to the store, filling in a shop that was formerly home to Boost Mobile.
Ha Nguyen, doing business as Day Nite Store, 26 Greenwood St., Nguyen is also hoping to upgrade her license to sell all kinds of alcohol. She said her small neighborhood grocery shop has been in business for 20 years and suffered negative impacts when Walmart moved into the area.
Karm Inc., doing business as Gateway Wine & Spirits, 37 Mechanic St., hopes to receive its first liquor license. The owner hopes to capitalize on population growth concentrated in the downtown area, though there was opposition from neighbors.
NEC Convenience Store Inc., 65 James St., is also applying for the first time.
LLAWM 1 LLC, doing business as Wine & Market, 166 Lincoln St., hopes to cater to residents in about 1,600 new units of housing in the Lincoln Street area. The store would have no tobacco or lottery items but would likely offer nonalcoholic beverages and coffees.
My Liquors Inc., 340 Shrewsbury St., would move into a former print shop that's been pitched as a location for a massage parlor, pet crematorium and used car lot. The shop owner has experience running similar package stores in Auburn and Shrewsbury, and is ready to invest $400,000 in the property.
Commissioners heard from those opposed to some of the plans and received copies of letters and petitions in favor of others. The commission has the power to deny a liquor license request based on proximity to schools and churches.
They can also deem an area "adequately served" and deny a license request based on the number of places a person could purchase alcohol and the proximity of the proposed new license site to those establishments.
Prior to the population bump, Worcester had 37 “all-alcohol” off-premises licenses. It now has 42 and since all 37 were issued, there is a fair amount of interest in the new licenses.
Commission Chairman Walter Shea said he and fellow commissioners Anthony Vigliotti and Charran Fisher, needed "time to digest" the wealth of information presented to them by applicants, opponents and proponents Thursday.
The commission is slated to hold a special meeting at 10 a.m. Sept. 29, at which time it will discuss the applications and vote on which it is inclined to approve.
This article originally appeared on Telegram & Gazette: Worcester License Commission offers 5 new package store licenses