Winchester concessions, St. Boniface offering, sidewalk café checks

50 neighbors crowded the Happy Village bar for a presentation on plans for the Winchester restaurant, 1924 W. Chicago.

Planning, Preservation & Development Committee report by Scott A. Rappe

1924/1916 West Chicago Avenue
After a presentation by the landlord and tenant of the proposed Winchester restaurant at the last monthly meeting, a motion was made to not oppose the requested zoning change from RT-4 to B3-2 for the 1924 portion of the property. The motion passed by a vote of 17 to 9, subject to a number of contingencies regarding the construction and operation of the restaurant:

  1. The restaurant shall not include a roof deck.

  2. The outdoor cafĂ© shall close no later than 11:00 pm, regardless of whether the sidewalk café permit allows a later closure.

  3. The café shall have a permitted, and actual, capacity of no greater than forty four (44) people.

  4. Exterior doors opening onto the sidewalk shall close no later than 11 p.m.

  5. The Winchester shall employ an off-duty thirteenth district police office daily from the hours of 10:00 pm until closing for the first six months after opening. This officer shall remain outside the restaurant and be responsible for monitoring departing patrons to ensure order, peace and quiet on the adjacent residential blocks.

  6. Deliveries to the restaurant shall be made on Chicago Avenue and not on Winchester.

  7. The construction and operation of the restaurant will conform to the drawings and commitments made in the developer's exhibits: undated architectural drawings (site plan, south elevation, west elevation), JEF + Associates letter dated April 30, 2009 regarding interior sound control treatments, and attached product literature, Upfront Parking Inc. letter, dated May 1, 2009, Tri-City Equipment Co. letter, dated May 4, 2009/

A second motion was made to oppose the requested zoning change from RT-4 to B3-2 for the 1916 portion of the property; this motion passed by a vote of 19 to 8. A letter was sent to Alderman Flores summarizing the results of the votes.

St. Boniface Church & Rectory
Although a demolition permit has been issued, until recently the Archdiocese of Chicago and the City of Chicago had been negotiating a possible land swap.

The concept was to exchange the St. Boniface property for city-owned land that the archdiocese could use. This would facilitate a private developer’s plans to restore of the church and build elderly housing on the site. Unfortunately this scheme is looking less feasible for reasons having to do with the legality of such land transfers.

The latest word is that the archdiocese is once again proposing that it retain ownership of the land, allowing the building to be utilized under a long term (99 years) lease.

Sidewalk Café Permit Review

The EVA board recently discussed the idea of requesting the aldermen for an advisory role in the approval of annual sidewalk café permits. The recent negotiations with the Winchester restaurant clearly demonstrated the frustration of many East Villagers with nearby bars and restaurants.

While the give and take between residents and businesses can be fruitful, it is difficult to ensure that commitments are lived up to once the zoning change and liquor license are granted. The profitability of these businesses is directly tied to the number of tables they have and how quickly they turn; a sidewalk café increases the effective size of the restaurant during their busiest time season and directly impacts this profitability.

Having the ability to weigh in annually on the granting of these lucrative permits might encourage business owners to be more sensitive to the concerns of surrounding residents.
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