East Village Association members will vote Monday on whether to support zoning and licensing changes for the Forbidden Root brewery to operate at 1742-50 W. Chicago Ave. Rootmaster Robert Finkel and brewer Robert (BJ) Pichman describe their proposal.
Forbidden Root will be the first botanical brewery in the country, crafting its brew around all natural herbs, roots and spices. It would like to open its headquarters, brewery and tap room in the long vacant former Hub Theater at 1746 W. Chicago Ave. As a “Benefit” corporation, it intends to donate all of its profits from non-consumable merchandise to worthy not-for-profit causes, initially the Green City Market.
Forbidden Root proposes locating its brewery and R&D operations in the rear of the building. The capacity of the on-site brewery will be limited and larger-scale brewing and bottling will occur at a remote location. The front portion of the building will be refurbished to provide an inviting tap room where customers can experience the company’s products. Seating capacity in the tap room would be limited to 150 persons. A small area for the sale of Forbidden Root products also will be located in the front portion of the building. The on-site retail sale of packaged alcohol will be limited to Forbidden Root brand products or products created in collaboration with Forbidden Root.
The production portion of the Forbidden Root proposal requires the rezoning of the property from B1 to C1. Forbidden Root has agreed to pursue such rezoning under a Type 1 rezoning, which keys the rezoning to specific plans and also to specific operations parameters. The on-site sale at retail of alcohol will require lifting the tavern moratorium in effect along Chicago Avenue from Ashland to Wood. The entire area covered by the moratorium is zoned B1. As taverns are not permitted in B1 zoning, lifting the tavern moratorium will not open the door to additional taverns in the area. The package liquor moratorium in effect for the same area is not currently proposed to be modified.
Forbidden Root will bring a unique, responsible and exciting new business to Chicago Avenue. A long-vacant building will be refurbished and returned to productive use. Forbidden Root is pursuing the needed approvals in a fashion that addresses all concerns raised about its proposal. It has agreed to make the conditions and limitations on its operations part of its approvals. As a community and environmentally conscious company, Forbidden Root will be positive addition to the area and revitalization of the long vacant Hub Theatre will further enliven Chicago Avenue.