Binny’s, Irving Park Rd project key to bringing new shoppers to 6 Corners, Ald. Arena says


The proposed redevelopment of the 4900 block of West Irving Park Road includes a Binny’s Beverage Depot that could play a key role in attracting new shoppers to Six Corners, according to Alderman John Arena (45th).

"The smaller pieces have filled in nicely" with the opening of independent restaurants, stores and cultural attractions, but the next challenge is getting a larger number of the motorists who travel through Six Corners each day to stop and do some shopping, Arena said. "We need to attract them with some brands they recognize," he said.

Arena made his comments an Oct. 21 community meeting on a proposal to open Binny’s, Retro Fitness, a law office, an art center and a community theater inside the former Bank of America at 4901-11 W. Irving Park Road. The proposal also calls for a Culver’s restaurant on the site of a former tire center at 4939 W. Irving Park Road, and efforts are being made to lease the former Bell Television site at 4925 W. Irving Park Road to another restaurant.

The development team reportedly is interested in acquiring additional properties on south side of the block, which includes dental and tax preparation offices. An Aldi’s grocery store also has been considered for the block, according to project officials.

"I think we have a lot going on at Six Corners. This is important to Six Corners in that we’re getting almost an entire city block activated," Arena said. "All of this fits in with the puzzle that is Six Corners."

Binny’s owner Michael Binstein said that for 4 1/2 years his company has been searching for a location at Six Corners. He said that much of his business’ success stems for stocking shelves with items "you can’t find anywhere else, very often times in the country." The company started out in a North Side storefront in the late 1940s and now has about 30 stores in Illinois.

Binny’s stores are open no later than 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 6 p.m. Sundays, Binstein said. The project requires the former bank site to be rezoned from B1-2 to C1-1 to accommodate the proposed 24,567-square-foot liquor store.

The first phase of the project calls for renovating the former bank and landscaping an existing rear parking lot, which is accessible from either Lamon Avenue or Lavergne Avenue. The lot would have 173 parking spaces, while tentative plans call for nine single-family homes to be built on the site of a second former bank parking lot to the south at 4915 W. Dakin Street.

Under the proposal Lavergne would remain a one-way southbound street, while Lamon, a one-way northbound street, would be converted to a two-way street between Irving Park and Dakin Street. "I’m trying to get as much traffic off the residential streets as possible," Arena said.

The project also calls for the reconfiguration of the alley which runs immediately south of Irving Park between Lamon and Lavergne. Plans had called the alley to be vacated and converted into a public plaza, but some of the property owners along the alley would not agree to the plan, said Arena’s chief of staff Owen Brugh.

Revised plans calls for only the alley’s eastern half, which backs up to the former bank and Bell Television sites, to be vacated, cutting off access to the alley from Lamon, Brugh said.

Vehicles entering the east-west alley from Lavergne would be able to exit via a north-south extension of the alley which would be constructed through the middle of the parking lot, Brugh said. The extension would take motorists to Dakin, a one-way westbound street.

A site plan also shows that the vehicular entrance and exit for Culver’s would be on Irving Park. Once on the Culver’s site, motorists would have the option of entering the lane for the restaurant’s drive-through facility or heading south, across the alley and into the rear parking lot.

The proposal also calls for $2 million in tax increment financing subsidies in part to help pay for the preservation of the 300-seat theater on the second floor of the former bank, Arena said. "I believe theater and the arts is a huge economic driver for us," he said.

The project is estimated to generate $3 million in sales tax revenue over 10 years and create between 100 and 150 full-time retail jobs, according to project officials. The first tenants could open inside the former bank as early as late spring of next year, project officials said.

In other news, details for a proposed retail center in the 4700 block of Irving Park could be announced in the next few weeks, Arena said.