Newmarket businesses push to set up improvement district

Business advocates in Newmarket, an industrial area that includes parts of Dorchester, Roxbury, and the South End, are banding together to set up an improvement district.

If approved by city officials, it would be the third business improvement district (BID) in Boston. The first two were for the downtown area in 2011 and the Kennedy Greenway area in 2018.

BIDs are started by local property owners and come with an improvement plan, as well as a fee structure levied on the properties by the city. In a BID, property owners manage and finance potential improvements.

The Newmarket BID proposal, covering 400 acres, would have an annual $3.5 million budget, with services that include a clean streets program, safety and security efforts, and a shuttle service.

Created in 1953, the Newmarket neighborhood took in meatpacking and food processing companies that had previously called Faneuil Hall and Haymarket home.  In the 1980s, painters, sculptors and cabinetmakers moved to Newmarket after Fort Point was rezoned, though arts and creative workers have moved out due to rising costs. The Record Co., a nonprofit recording studio, remains there due to a below-market lease, according to city planners.

The neighborhood is now a mix of industrial companies, creative workers, and addiction and recovery services. The current workforce is “more racially and ethnically diverse than in Boston as a whole, and the majority live within 10 miles,” according to the Boston Planning and Development Agency.

Members of the Newmarket Business Association, which represents over 200 businesses, on Friday formally submitted their proposal for a Newmarket BID to Acting Mayor Kim Janey.

“The years of planning and coordination demonstrate the power of community-driven change to create economic growth and opportunities,” Janey said in a statement. “Newmarket Square is not just the heart of Boston’s manufacturing community; it’s become a thriving commercial and mixed-use destination.”

Newmarket business advocates have been working on the effort for more than three years. The next stop for the proposal is the City Council, which will hold a public hearing and vote.

“We know that BIDs work across Massachusetts, across the country, and across the world,” Sue Sullivan, executive director of the Newmarket Business Association, said in a statement. “We appreciate Mayor Janey’s support for our effort in Newmarket and look forward to using this tool to help the City improve the quality of life for all who live and do business here.”