Zoning board okays drive-thru for planned Chick-fil-A on vacant parcel along Higgins in 41st Ward
by BRIAN NADIG
The Zoning Board of Appeals at its Nov. 17 meeting approved a special use request for a drive-through facility for a planned Chick-fil-A restaurant at 8151-8221 W. Higgins Ave., where a Howard Johnson motel once operated.
41st Ward Alderman Anthony Napolitano chief of staff Chris Vittorio said that the developer has indicated a second commercial tenant is being sought for the appropriately 3-acre site.
The parcel is located between the Hooters restaurant at 8225 W. Higgins Ave. and the Springhill Suites by Marriott at 8101 W. Higgins Ave. The property also runs just to the north of the outbound lanes of the Kennedy Expressway.
In recent years the site has been used for outdoor storage, but at one time a massive hotel complex with 994 rooms and a large convention facility was planned.
However, the project failed to materialize years ago after Chinese investors reportedly were defrauded.
A former developer for the site ended up pleading guilty to charges that he faked and forged documents in securing $158 million from 290 investors under the EB-5 federal program, which grants permanent residency status to foreign investors. In 2017 he was sentenced to three years in prison.
The sentencing occurred about 8 years after the City Council had approved the 182-foot-tall hotel project.
The 41st Ward Zoning Advisory Committee had endorsed a smaller version of the project, which grew in size with the approval of city planning officials.