Some residents prefer new restaurant to fill storefront
by BRIAN NADIG
Concern that a restaurant would be built on a 12-space parking lot at 5338 W. Devon Ave. rather than opening in a vacant storefront in Downtown Edgebrook was expressed at the March 5 meeting of the 41st Zoning Advisory Board.
Advisory board member Christine Rosenberg said that “there is a lot of interest in new development” in the area but that some residents have asked if it would be better for it to fill a vacant storefront. Rosenberg serves on the board of the Edgebrook Community Association.
Project developer Kevin Walsh told the board that he attempted to lease a former real estate office at 5342 W. Devon Ave. which is next to the parking lot but that a lease agreement could not be reached. The parking lot has a different owner than the four-storefront building at 5342-48 W. Devon Ave.
“There are not so many vacancies in . . . Edgebrook any more,” Edgebrook Chamber of Commerce executive director Bob Madiar said at the meeting. New liquor licenses are not allowed in some storefronts because they are within 100 feet of a church, a day care center or the Edgebrook Library, 5331 W. Devon Ave.
The proposed restaurant site is across the street from the library, but a surveyor has measured the distance as 101.25 feet, and the Chicago Liquor Commission has indicated that the site is eligible for a liquor license, Walsh said. The city used different measuring criteria until 2 years ago, and a liquor license would not have been allowed at the site then, he said.
Walsh said that his development team has a contract to purchase the parking lot but that it is contingent on obtaining a liquor license. The B1-1 zoning of the site allows alcohol to be served only in a restaurant’s dining room, while B3-1 allows a restaurant to have a bar as long as most of its revenue is generated by food sales.
The approximately 68-seat restaurant would have 12 to 14 stools at a bar, Walsh said. He said that while the restaurant could be built without a zoning change, it is unlikely that the project would be economically feasible without a bar.
The one-story restaurant would have five to seven parking spaces in the rear of the 4,000-square-foot site, and plans are being made to use nearby parking lots, Walsh said. Closing hours have not been set, but they could be as late as 1 a.m. on weekends, he said.
Two residents expressed concern that allowing a bar in the restaurant would lead to noise and other problems for the neighborhood and that a bar atmosphere is not in line with nearby dance and martial arts studios that are geared toward families.
Walsh said that the establishment would be family friendly and that it would have a children’s menu. He said that nearby establishments that sell alcohol, including Moher Public House, 5310 W. Devon Ave., do not disturb the neighborhood.
Walsh, who is the chairman of the advisory board, has recused himself from the board’s discussion of the project. The board makes recommendations on zoning issues to Alderman Mary O’Connor.
The board’s next meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 2, at the Olympia Park fieldhouse, 6566 N. Avondale Ave. A plan to build a two-story house at 7130-32 W. Highland Ave. also is on the agenda for the April 2 meeting.