Group hears plans for new liquor store
by BRIAN NADIG
The Mayfair Civic Association is not supporting a plan for a new liquor store to open inside the former Lawrel Liquors building, 4471 W. Lawrence Ave., unless it receives updated renderings and confirmation that the owner would agree to operating restrictions.
Several residents at the association’s meeting on April 13 said that they might be in favor of the project if more information was available. Plans call for the building to be renovated and for the store to have a dedicated space for wine, craft beer and high-end scotch tastings. Lawrel Liquors closed about 16 months ago.
Association Zoning and Development Committee chairman Chris Lambesis said that some of the initial feedback was positive but that the association has not had any recent communication with the owner. "We’re not turning anyone away," he said. "They promised to give us more information. They haven’t."
The association plans to send a letter to Alderman Margaret Laurino (39th) outlining its concerns. The owner recently signed a lease for the space and will be seeking a construction permit for the renovations, Laurino spokesman Manuel Galvan said.
Residents are asking that the store closes at 9 p.m. on weekdays and 11 p.m. on weekends and that the sale of cigarettes, chips and malt liquor be prohibited in an effort to preserve the upscale nature that the owner is seeking for the store, according to association members. Specialty cheeses and crackers would be allowed, a resident said.
The restrictions can be part of a plan of operation that the city would include as conditions of the store’s license. Violating the plan can result in fines or the revocation of a license.
The association also is seeking more information on reported improvements planned for L & P Liquor and Grocery, 4001 W. Lawrence Ave.
Also at the meeting, North River Commission executive director Thomas Applegate discussed the role of the commission and gave an update on a community-visioning project with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning. The service area for the commission, which is an economic development corporation, includes Mayfair and Albany Park.
"In my service area, I don’t have a lot of big parcels," Applegate said of redevelopment opportunities.
The commission serves as a resource for community groups when it comes to redevelopment and other improvement projects, making sure that residents have a seat at the decision-making table, Applegate said.
"Increase in zoning. That is a gift to the land owner. You should have a say in that," he said.
Applegate said that mixed-use developments of up to five stories tall could be ideal for main thoroughfares because they act as a buffer, protecting nearby homes from noise.
A woman recommended that new construction be limited to three stories in Mayfair. She said that too much additional density would worsen the area’s parking congestion.
Another resident said that he hopes the success of the new Old Irving Brewing Company, 4419 W. Montrose Ave., will encourage more restaurants and stores to open near the CTA Montrose Blue Line Station, 4600 W. Montrose Ave.
An influx of cultural activities, such as a storefront theater, can help revitalize a commercial area, Applegate said. He said that theatergoers seek places to eat before or after the show.