Roots pizza project adds ingredients

Developer Scott Weiner sent the East Village Association board this statement Dec. 1 on the Roots Handmade Pizza/Bleeding Heart Bakery Café, 1916-24 W. Chicago Ave. EVA members will vote Jan. 3 to advise Ald. Joe Moreno (1st Ward) on the project.

Thank you for the opportunity to meet to discuss the concept for our project as well as its impact on the neighborhood and Chicago Avenue corridor. We have received your recommendations in regards to modification of our plans and we are hoping our concessions will help alleviate some of the concerns without sacrificing our business model or ability to make impactful business decisions down the road.

We have completely redesigned our architectural plans to move our trash and recycling off and out of the alley and into our building. They are now enclosed within our building to eliminate our complete trash presence in the alley.

As mentioned prior, we are using electric baking equipment, which is much more expensive but ultimately better for consistent baking as it controls temperature better. Our pizza oven is included in this. This will substantially limit the amount of our exhaust presence.

For our equipment that has to be gas (burners, deep fryer, etc.), we are using a heat recovery ventilation system designed by Marshall Air Systems (current best bid). Basically what this equipment does is provide a counterflow heat exchanger, which converts much of the heat from our hoods and exhaust into fresh, breathable air that can heat or ventilate the restaurant. It is part of our energy efficiency and will also save us money over time, albeit more expensive up front. It will also create much less outside exhaust.

With regards to eliminating the pickup window on Winchester Street, this is something that we cannot do. We have spoken to the alderman in regards to getting a loading zone on both Chicago Avenue and Winchester Street and there is initial support for this. This will hopefully alleviate the concern of people double parking while picking up their food.

If we do receive the support of the EVA board, we will agree to support the following, which we currently oppose. We will work with EVA and the alderman to:
  • Make Winchester a 2-way street. This will alleviate traffic coming into the neighborhood.

  • Make Winchester (north of the alley) and other neighborhood streets within a 2 block vicinity permit parking only.

With regards to adding a stairwell to the front of BHB, this is impossible if I understand it correctly. There is no basement for BHB so there would be nowhere for the stairwell to go except up, which is the rooftop. In terms of Roots, there is a stairwell in the front on Chicago Avenue to facilitate deliveries on Chicago Avenue. With regards to deliveries for BHB, trucks will park in the loading zone on Chicago Avenue. They will wheel the deliveries around to the back. This is exactly how most deliveries take place for Fifty/50 and we have not received any neighborhood complaints. As opposed to the alley off of Winchester, where there is a fence, our alley is completely combined and integrated with residential garages and parking.

With regards to executing restrictive covenants on the deed of the property, we are not willing to do so, as it creates problems if we ever try to sell. It also requires the approval of all of our investors, which most will not agree. We are willing to put certain concessions or property rules into writing and have them notarized. These are contingent upon approval of our project and special use permit by the EVA board and a decision to “not oppose” by EVA.

We will not limit the extent of the outdoor café on Winchester Street to 60 feet. We will attempt to set up our patio with service stations being on the north end of the patio to limit the amount of people that are closer to residential.

We will prohibit sound amplification on the outdoor café. There will be absolutely no speakers outside. We will place inside speakers in positions to not amplify outside, to the best of our ability, without sacrificing indoor sound quality.

We will run the outdoor café according to city ordinances. We will not close early or place any restrictions that the city does not already place.

All windows past the 60-foot mark (estimate) on Winchester will be closed when the patio closes or earlier based on business and weather. Windows on the front half of Winchester (basically on the corner of Chicago and Winchester) will stay open as business and weather dictate. After the first couple months that we are open, we are more than willing to sit own and revisit this if it does prove to be a nuisance to our neighbors.

In regards to the pickup and carry-out window on Winchester, we will close this when we close our kitchen for normal business hours. On weekends this will be 2 a.m.d and it will be earlier on the weekdays. We will have security on site at the restaurant every night, just like Fifty/50, and will not permit loitering. There will also be an outdoor surveillance camera, similar to that of Fifty/50.

We have no objection to sitting down with EVA board every year to discuss our sidewalk café. The purpose of this meeting will be to discuss issues over the past year and how we can improve them, if there are any. This meeting will not be to reapprove the layout or hours of the patio.

We will commit to training and doing anything possible to making sure nobody is double parked and the alley is not blocked. We hope the dual loading zones will make this easier for everyone.

As we’ve said in the past, the residents of this neighborhood and this general area are our target audience and we want to do what is right to protect their ability to enjoy a peaceful and safe neighborhood. We also have to balance the needs of our business and feel that these
concessions are reasonable and fair to everyone.

There also may have been a misunderstanding regarding what it is that we are asking for EVA to “not oppose.” We are asking for EVA to “not oppose” our special use permit for the rooftop deck. We are not looking for the support of EVA for a zoning change. Thank you for you consideration.

Sincerely,
Scott Weiner & Greg Mohr

3 comments:

  1. I live two blocks from the proposed location and I fully support it. I for one live in the city to take advantage of it's walkability and if on that walk I have an opportunity to grab a coffee/plastery/pizza, then I'll be a happy East Village resident.

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  2. I agree Matt. Considering that all the developers are asking for is approval for the rooftop garden for Bleeding Heart -- a feature I think we can all get behind -- I think they have more than answered the concerns of the community, and have opened the door to addressing any problems that arise once they're in business. I look forward to grabbing some pizza and a cupcake in the neighborhood!

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  3. Unfortunately, there is no offer of compromise here. There are two primary problems. First, the noise coming from the bar portion through the open doors when the weather permits. Second, the late night loitering, garbage and noise associated with a pick up window. Matt when you are two blocks away you won't have to deal with these problems.

    They also are offering to withdraw their opposition to making Winchester permit parking. Come on guys is this supposed to be a compromise? Thanks, but Winchester already has permit parking. It appears that these new business owners haven't even taken the time to walk 10 feet to check out what is happening on Winchester.

    Sorry the latest proposal asks for us to trust them and if there is a problem they will talk to the neighborhood later. If they can't take the time to figure out what the current parking situation is on Winchester how can we trust their plans or their responsiveness in the future.

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