Fran Bevilacqua looked around the downtown and saw a giant commercial hole.

He saw plenty of shops and restaurants, but there was no place for downtown residents to buy liquor near their residences and carry it home.

With help from the city and the state, Bevilacqua was able to change that.

The city and the Massachusetts Alcohol Beverages Control Commission (ABCC) granted an extra liquor license to Bevilacqua to open his Downtown Wine and Spirits store on Locust Street. It opened in March near old shoe factory buildings that have been converted to hundreds of apartments.

"I had heard that there was a license available," said Bevilacqua. "I went to the ABCC and told them that there was a need for a liquor store in the downtown Haverhill area. They liked my idea and we were able to get the license."

The extra license was available due to an increase in the city's population. Haverhill's population was 60,879 in the 2010 census, an increase of almost 2,000 residents from 2000.

As a result of the increase, the ABCC allowed Haverhill to increase its number of licenses from 12 to 13 for package stores that sell all alcohol. Downtown Wine and Spirits received the extra license.

This is the second time this year that Haverhill has added liquor licenses. The city also added 10 licenses in April in an attempt to attract new restaurants. Those licenses are only applicable only to restaurants and bars.

Bevilacqua has been involved with several ventures in Haverhill. In addition to his liquor store, he currently manages apartment buildings and owns Fortis Builders, a construction company. Bevilacqua graduated from Haverhill High School in 1997.

"I grew up in the city," he said. "I've taken some properties that are run down and made it better."

The location of his store on Locust Street was formerly a machine shop called Kay Mechanical. The building was purchased and renovated by local electrical contractor Phil Rice and rented out to Bevilacqua.

The store is within walking distance of several housing developments. It is next door to the Cordovan at Haverhill Station apartments and just seconds away from the Hamel Mill Lofts apartments.

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