Rounding up East Village planning issues

East Village Association membership meeting minutes, January 13, 2014
Submitted by Meghan Quinn


Planning, Preservation & Development: Forbidden Root, 1746 W. Chicago Ave.

A new brewery and taproom is interested in moving into the former Hub Theater space at 1746 W. Chicago Ave. They will need the liquor moratorium lifted in order to sell packaged goods, and they also need zoning changed from B to C to produce beer on site. EVA has worked to purposefully downzone from C to B in a lot of the commercial strip areas to keep out unwanted light industry uses such as dry cleaning and auto services. Additionally, from an urban planning standpoint, commercial zoning adjacent to residential zoning and spot zoning are not ideal practices. There are some existing C zoned areas close by on Grand Avenue that would work well for a project such as this one.

At this point, the planning committee is against the upzone and moratorium lift, as it goes against what they have been working toward for 10 years. There's also a concern that it is a slippery slope if an exception is made for one business, the door will be opened to exceptions for others as well, such as a muffler shop. For example, in the past there was a request for a C upzone in the space West Town Bakery now occupies. They wanted to open a large dry cleaning plant there, which EVA was against. The point was made that Chicago Avenue is starting to see unique retail and different uses coming in, which is a positive step.

EVA worked extensively with Forbidden Root’s attorney, Rolando Acosta, to establish the transit-oriented development ordinance that allowed for the 1611 W Division site to be developed. It is possible that an innovative strategy can be explored in this case as well to maintain the protections available to East Village residents. Forbidden Root will hold a community meeting on Jan. 23 at 6pm in the proposed brewery site in order to discuss the project.

Forbidden Root alternatives brewing


East Village Association board meeting minutes, January 13, 2014
Submitted by Meghan Quinn


Planning, Preservation & Development: Forbidden Root, 1746 W. Chicago Ave.

Representatives approached Neal McKnight with their proposed brewery-taproom on Chicago Avenue. They need a liquor moratorium lifted, and the zoning changed from B to C to open at that location. McKnight discussed the project with Scott Rappe and Peter Locke of the PPD committee, and they all agreed that the project would be fine if they kept within the existing zoning of the site.

Rich Anselmo stated that he and EVA fought for B zoning there, as well as along much of Chicago Avenue to keep out unwanted uses such as dry cleaning and auto services. Additionally, from an urban planning standpoint, commercial zoning adjacent to residential zoning and spot zoning are not ideal practices. There are some existing C zoned areas close by on Grand Avenue that would work well for such a project.

EVA worked extensively with Forbidden Root’s attorney, Rolando Acosta, to establish the transit-oriented development ordinance that allowed for the 1611 W. Division St. site to be developed. It is possible that an innovative strategy can be explored in this case as well to maintain the protections available to East Village residents.

Forbidden Root will hold a community meeting on Jan. 23 at 6pm in the proposed brewery site in order to discuss their project.

Blind date with a book

Free events include a screening of the film "Revolution '67."

By Jason Nosek, library associate

Celebrate Valentine's Day by going on a blind date with a book: Drop by the West Town Branch Library the week of Valentine’s Day, Feb. 10 through 14, and pick up a wrapped and decorated book.

There will be hints as to what each book is about to pique your interest, but you won't know what you have until you are on your "date." Simply pick one out, check it out at the circulation desk, bring it home, unwrap it, and enjoy!

Unlike a regular blind date, there’ll be no awkward questions, no forced conversations, and no judgmental looks. It could provide an enjoyable evening, a dud, or just maybe the love of your life! It’s our Valentine to library users.

Forbidden Root: Next steps

The East Village Association is pleased that Forbidden Root is willing to consider compromises to its original proposal, including legislative changes, and we look forward to working with them on these issues.

As we noted in our most recent statement, w e look forward to continuing to work with Forbidden Root to craft a proposal that would allow the business to open and to maintain the protections available to the surrounding residents.

—Neal McKnight, EVA president

Chicago Avenue zoning crafts a better community

Proposed site of Forbidden Root, 1746 W. Chicago Ave.
President's Message
By Neal McKnight

It's again a critical time for East Village and the other neighborhoods near the Loop. There's a strong attraction to neighborhoods near the core of the city. East Village already benefits from this demographic trend, and is challenged by it. The East Village Association recognized this and consulted other groups – and most importantly Ald. Proco Joe Moreno and his staff – to develop a plan that would address the challenges of Chicago’s changing demographics.

As part of this plan, in April 2013 Ald. Moreno agreed to maintain the liquor moratoria in the East Village Association territory until May 2015. It is important to note that not all liquor licenses are banned by the moratoria, and new East Village restaurants continue to obtain incidental liquor licenses. The purpose of the plan was to allow our past planning experience with liquor sales guide the continued development of East Village.

Forbidden Root brewery has demanded that the East Village Association agree to lift two liquor moratoria and upzone a Chicago Avenue parcel it does not yet own, from B to C zoning. This proposal undermines well-laid plans for our community and the alderman's agreement. The proposal asks too much from the neighborhood, and it asks too much from Ald. Moreno. Forbidden Root would force him to break his agreement without considering the consequences. Our experience tells us that these demands are contrary to development of a dynamic, sustainable and locally focused commercial district.

Locally brewed craft beer is very popular right now, because many craft brewers like Forbidden Root espouse sustainable and local production and have committed to contributing to their communities. These are commendable principles that EVA has always supported. Ironically, Forbidden Root’s demands may undermine them.

Forbidden Root brewery drafts Chicago Avenue bid

President's Message
By Neal McKnight

There has been a great deal of talk today about EVA's involvement in a request to upzone a Chicago Avenue property from B to C zoning to accommodate a small brewery with wholesale sales and an accompanying large bar.

Forbidden Root presented a proposal to EVA representatives knowing full well that their proposal was contrary to the City of Chicago zoning, contrary to what both Alderman Moreno, EVA and others had together agreed were appropriate uses for this area.

Nevertheless, EVA discussed with a representative of Forbidden Root the proposal and requested that they alter their plans so that they need not request a zoning change from B to C zoning. First, EVA suggested that they open an establishment that served their own beer as being incidental to food service. Second, we asked that they not use the location as their wholesale beer sales point. Notably, these uses are not described in the flyer that is being distributed.

We have heard no compromise from Forbidden Root but we are still communicating.

1611 West Division tower leads East Village news

The Polish Triangle's prototypal transit-oriented development has a long history. The 1611 West Division location was a YMCA, a Pizza Hut and (at least on the drawing boards) a Walgreens drugstore. Next month it opens with 99 apartments above a PNC bank and Intelligentsia coffee bar.

This site has posted more than 700 articles since 2007, not counting archived editions of the East Village Association newsletter. Names have changed for prominent sites: News about the 1611 West Division address is filed under Pizza Hut and lead anchor PNC Bank. Similarly, the several Fifield Cos. apartment proposals for 1822-50 W. Chicago Ave. are known for the vacant site's last building, the AAA Distributing news agency, and its onetime prospects for renovation as the Chicago Bowl nightclub.

Search engines and real-estate blogs such as Curbed cite this site for background on these developments. Some of our most often-viewed posts date from several years back, including stubbornly persistent topics like auto theft. The desktop version of this site includes a search box at the top and a "tag cloud" of popular topics at the right. This snowy day is a good time to reflect on East Village history through our growing collection of source material.

Next EVA meeting: January 13

The Happy Village is having an event Monday and our usual meeting space is unavailable. In addition, the forecast predicts a temperature of about 10 below, and the BCS National Championship Game is the same night. So the next meeting will be Monday, Jan. 13. The board meets at 6:30pm at the Happy Village, 1059 N. Wolcott Ave., with the membership meeting to follow at 7pm.