Boston Business Journal

Boston councilors weighs property tax break for ‘Mass. and Cass' businesses

The Boston City Council is considering a reduction in the property taxes paid by businesses at the center of the “Mass. and Cass” homelessness and opioid-use crises to help compensate them for property damage and other costs.

At-Large City Councilor Erin Murphy called Wednesday for a hearing to discuss tax abatements for business owners in Boston’s Newmarket neighborhood, which includes the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard.

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Another at-large councilor, Michael Flaherty, pushed a similar proposal last year. But in recent weeks, safety at Mass. and Cass has deteriorated to the point that outreach groups have pulled employees from the streets, Mayor Michelle Wu said last week. Wu is planning a “major step” to address the problems, she said.

Newmarket is home to a cluster of industrial and food production businesses, as well as some retailers and restaurants. In recent years, business owners there have suffered smashed windows, stolen equipment, break-ins and threats to employee and customer safety.

An order introduced by Murphy on Wednesday did not specify exactly what the abatements would look like. The filing cited Newmarket Business Association data that 60-plus businesses in the area spent $3.9 million on security measures and incurred $1.9 million in damages in 2021 and concluded “that cost has gone up tremendously in the past two years.”

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