Update given on former Lawrel store site
by BRIAN NADIG
Updates on the former Lawrel Liquors site, a possible new park and a recently formed bike trail alliance were given at the May 11 meeting of the Mayfair Civic Association.
It was reported that Alderman Margaret Laurino (39th) is supporting plans to remodel a liquor store at 4471 W. Lawrence Ave. "She decided it should go through," said association zoning and development committee chairman Chris Lambesis.
Plans call for more than $400,000 of renovations and the opening of a lounge and a store that will sell packaged liquor goods and cigarettes. Project representatives for Leo’s Liquors have described the store as "upscale," with craft beers and specialty liquor tasting events.
Lambesis said that there is community support for the project but that the association had hoped restrictions on the store’s operating hours and a ban on the sale of cigarettes could have been implemented as conditions of its licenses. He said that those conditions would have been intended to ensure the upscale nature of the store.
Without those restrictions, the store and lounge can stay open to 2 a.m. daily, with an additional hour on Saturday nights, Lambesis said. Some residents were hoping to have a closing time of 11 p.m., he said.
Laurino recently submitted to the association a plan of operation which includes restrictions which the store’s owner, Kinnar Patel, agreed to follow, but it does not mention the store’s operating hours. It includes a requirement that store windows close by 10 p.m. for sound abatement and a ban on the sale of pints of liquor for less than $7.
The plan of operation also calls for the store’s operators to keep the area outside of the store clean and to take measures to prevent unruly behavior from patrons. The plan will be attached to the store’s liquor license, and a violation could result in a fine or suspension of the license.
Association president Ronald Duplack said that the association’s ability to get additional restrictions placed in the plan of operation was limited. "They don’t need our approval because they don’t need any zoning change," he said.
It also was reported that association officials will be meeting with Laurino to discuss the Chicago Park District’s possible purchase of a triangular parcel at 4542-48 N. Kedvale Ave. for the purpose of creating a park. "There seems to be some kind of momentum as to identifying sources of funding," Duplack said.
A real estate ad for the property described the 115-year-old house on the site as a "tear down." Some residents have said that the closest parks to the neighborhood are too far away.
Also at the meeting, Jac Charlier discussed the creation of the North Branch Trail Alliance of Greater Chicago. The civic association belongs to the alliance.
Charlier, one of the founders of the alliance, said that the alliance wants to showcase businesses located up to a half-mile from the trail. He said that studies show that those who bike at least 15 miles on a ride typically spend $35 at restaurants and stores near trails.
The alliance will hold its inaugural bike ride from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 20. Participants are asked to gather around 10:30 a.m. at Forest Glen Woods, 5420 N. Forest Glen Ave.
The ride will include stops at the Howard Street Inn, 6700 W. Howard St., Local Goods Chicago, 5422 W. Devon Ave., and Nuts ‘N More, 5352 W. Devon Ave.
Also, the association plans to submit to Laurino locations where new or improved crosswalks, with signs warning drivers to yield to pedestrians, are needed on Lawrence and Montrose avenues.
Several residents said that commercial areas in Mayfair should become more pedestrian-friendly to help facilitate the area’s revitalization.
It also was reported that a restaurant crawl, called "Flavors of Albany Park," will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, May 24. More information is available at www.northrivercommission.org.
The 17th (Albany Park) District CAPS office will hold "Hooked On Fishing" for children age 6 to 13 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, June 10, at the lagoon at Gompers Park, 4222 W. Foster Ave.
Fishing equipment will be provided, and volunteers will be available to help participants.
Registration is required, and forms are available by calling the district CAPS at 312-742-4588. The registration deadline is Friday, May 26.