Residents oppose 7-Eleven project
by BRIAN NADIG
A 7-Eleven gas station and convenience store has been proposed for the former Byline Bank site at the northwest corner of Montrose and Austin avenues.
Most of the dozen residents at a Feb. 7 community meeting hosted by Alderman Nicholas Sposato (38th) opposed the proposal.
"Once again I can assure you nothing has been decided," Sposato said.
Residents raised concerns that the development would be a magnet for crime and that the area does not need more gas stations and convenience stores.
"It screams 1990s," a resident said of the proposed 7-Eleven. "I’m looking for something more high-end."
Project officials said that 7-Eleven stores have state-of-the-art surveillance systems and that the company promotes the fact that no more than $30 in cash is kept in registers in an effort to deter robbers. They said that the proposed store would not sell liquor due to a city ordinance which bans alcohol sales at gas stations.
Sposato said that the property has been vacant for nearly 2 years and that another developer expressed interest in building a car wash there but that plans were never submitted. He said that another bank cannot open there due to a restriction in the property’s deed.
The convenience store would be constructed on the far north end of the 29,107-square-foot parcel, where an auxiliary parking lot for the former bank is located. The gas dispensers would be located on the southern half of the site, which would include a driveway on Austin and another on Montrose.
The proposal calls for vacating a portion of an east-west alley which separates the bank building and the auxiliary parking lot. In addition, an adjacent house on Montrose would be demolished.
Project attorney Mark Kupiec said that the closing of the alley should reduce cut-through traffic, as motorists currently can access the alley from Austin and head into the neighborhood. Kupiec said that the alley would restart immediately west of the 7-Eleven lot, where a fence would block customers from accessing the alley.
The project requires the parking lot north of the alley to be rezoned from RS-2, which is intended primarily for single-family homes, to B3-1, Kupiec said. A special use permit to allow for a gas station also is required.
The Montrose-Austin intersection includes several auto-related businesses, including a Shell gas station at 5959 W, Montrose Ave. and Stanley’s Automotive, 6001 W. Montrose Ave.
Meanwhile, Sposato held a Feb. 1 meeting on a proposed coffee shop, reportedly a Starbucks, for the southeast corner of Irving Park Road and Cumberland Avenue. He said that residents at the meeting were supportive of the project, which requires a special use permit for the planned drive-through facility.