Lake Effect Brewing moving to Avondale instead of Jefferson Park firehouse as lease set to expire at current Montrose location
by BRIAN NADIG
Lake Effect Brewing in Portage Park plans to relocate this year to a new location in Avondale as the craft beer company cannot wait any longer for the commercial space inside the Jefferson Park firehouse redevelopment to be ready for occupancy.
“The firehouse is not going to be ready in time,” Lake Effect owner Clint Bautz said. “We’ve been scrambling since March (for a new location). We’re not moving far … just a neighborhood or two over.”
Lake Effect has been located inside an industrial building at 4727 W. Montrose Ave. for 10 years, but its lease is ending and the building’s main occupant, Chicago Costume, needs the additional space, Bautz said.
The brewery’s current entrance is off an alley, but the new location will be more visible and include enough space for a taproom, which Lake Effect has never had, Bautz said.
A formal announcement of the address will be made in a few weeks, but the new location is zoned for a brewery, and production there should begin no later than December, hopefully earlier, Bautz said. The build out of the taproom will likely begin next year, he said.
Lake Effect plans to continue brewing beer on Montrose until the new facility is ready, Bautz said.
Plans were announced in early 2018 that Lake Effect would be leasing the ground floor of the firehouse project at 4837-41 N. Lipps Ave., which includes eight apartments and the addition of a third floor. The firehouse, which is located less than a block from the Jefferson Park CTA Terminal, was built 116 years ago and has been vacant for at least 10 years.
“It’s a complicated project, (but) it’s in really good hands (and) something good is going to go there,” Bautz said of the firehouse. “The 5-year (wait) was a really long time for us.”
Developer Tim Pomaville of Ambrosia Homes said that the project is in the permitting process and that he hopes to break ground before the end of summer. Construction will start with the addition of the third floor to the two-story structure, he said.
Pomaville said that he wants a ground-floor tenant, such as a restaurant or a bar that will generate foot traffic and excitement for the area.
“Something cool has to go in that space,” Pomaville said. “People have been calling me. I show the space occasionally.”
The space measures about 3,500 square feet and includes a basement, Pomaville said.
Plans call for the project’s residential entrance to be located along West Ainslie Street, with the commercial entryway on Lipps. The project also includes the preservation of the historical look of the firehouse, as the third-floor addition will be set back so that it will not be readily visible to passers-by.
In 2021 Ambrosia acquired the property from the city in exchange for putting $208,000 in escrow to cover the cost of the site’s environmental remediation, with the city keeping any leftover funds. The city said that the property was appraised at $208,000. In 2020, the city rejected alternative proposals from the Copernicus Foundation and Carpenters Union Local 58 to purchase the site.
The firehouse is located across from a parcel at 4849 N. Lipps Ave. that was rezoned for a 16-story building with 114 apartments and a 200-space parking garage about 5 years ago, but it’s not clear when the developer, the Mega Group, plans to build.