As Hanover Mall changes over the next few years into an outdoor mall that will be known as Hanover Crossing, the addition of several restaurants is expected play a large role in its transformation. And whether those restaurants will be able to serve alcohol is soon to be in the hands of voters.
Town Meeting attendees on Monday, May 6, will decide whether to petition the Massachusetts legislature to award the town 13 additional liquor licenses to be used for on-site consumption. Under the wording of the Town Meeting article, the licenses would be issued to businesses within the Planned Shopping Center District, which includes the mall and soon-to-be Hanover Crossing.
Hanover Mall General Manager Ed Callahan called the additional liquor licenses a critical step in the revitalization of the property.
“Successful mixed-use developments foster a sense of community, with vibrant and unique experiences, most commonly through new restaurants and experiential retail,” said Callahan. “The ability to serve adult beverages is key to attracting unique dining and entertainment products to the new Hanover Crossing redevelopment.”
The article calls for 10 all liquor licenses, and three more for just beer and wine pouring. The town would have three years from the legislature’s approval to issue the initial licenses. Any license that is issued in that time period would then be subject to the normal liquor license renewal process.
Once the legislature grants the new licenses, they would be awarded by the town on an as-needed basis as PREP, the owners of the Hanover Mall, leases space to restaurants.
The licenses for on-site consumption would be for restaurants only, not for packaged sales, like liquor stores. Trader Joe’s, for example, has a license to sell alcohol, but is considered a grocery store. It’s license is for packaged alcohol which may not be consumed on the property.
Under the article, the licenses could not be transferred to other businesses by the license holder. If a restaurant closes, or surrenders its license or has its license revoked, the license returns to the town and The Board of Selectmen would then be able to award the license to another business.
No restaurants have been announced yet, but according to PREP, the company is in preliminary discussions with several businesses. The licenses now held by Outback Steakhouse and Buffalo Wild Wings, which are located on the property, are not considered part of the 13 new licenses in the article.
PREP is looking to build a 297-unit residential property where the Patriot Cinemas now sits toward the rear of the property. The theater would likely move to the spot where Sears currently sits. A concentration of restaurants is planned for that part of the property, but others will be located throughout Hanover Crossing.
Once Wal-Mart’s lease expires at the end of January 2020, the mall will be closed with the exception of Macy’s as the roof is torn off and the stores are demolished. The stores and restaurants around the mall, such as Dick’s Sporting Goods, Panera Bread and Trader Joe’s, are scheduled to remain while the project is underway.
Many of the stores that are still in the mall are on short-term or month-to-month leases until the mall officially closes.
Town Meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on May 6 at Hanover High School, 287 Cedar St.
Follow Adam Silva on Twitter @AdamSMariner.