I sponsored a community meeting last January on a proposal for a zoning change and special use permit to allow for a restaurant and bar in the commercial space of the new building at 1412 W. Morse.
The proposal was met with overwhelming support at the community meeting, which over 40 community residents attended, and in e-mails sent to my office. My Zoning and Land Use Advisory Committee recommended I support the proposal, as well. Accordingly, I have decided to support the zoning change and special use permit.
The owner of the building at 1412 W. Morse, Alex Samrdzija, will be the proprietor of the proposed new business, which will be similar to Xippo, a restaurant and bar that Mr. Samrdzija owns in Lincoln Square at 3759 N Damen.
The property at 1412 W. Morse currently is zoned B3-3. A zoning change to C1-3 will be required because no tavern may exist within 400 feet of another tavern in a B zone. A special use permit is also required to allow for seven off-site parking spaces. If Mr. Samrdzija receives the requested zoning change and special use permit, he will then be eligible to apply for a tavern license.
A few individuals have expressed concern about allowing another business to apply for a liquor license in the Morse/Glenwood area. While I understand their concern, Morse Avenue needs more quality businesses, especially in the evening hours when most of the stores are closed and dark. A vibrant tavern and restaurant on the block, with large windows facing the street and a sidewalk cafe in the warm months, will bring more positive activity on the street and drive away the negative elements that remain.
One need look no further than Jarvis Square where my ward office is located. While certainly Charmers Cafe and Gruppo di Amici have helped to transform the area, the Irish pub, Poitin Stil, is the only business open late at night in Jarvis Square. Even though they are a tavern only, Poitin Stil’s late-night presence has created a safe welcoming environment that has driven away the last remaining drug dealers and loiterers that remained on the block.
If Mr. Samrdzija and his family have a twenty-year track record of running a nearly identical bar and restaurant in the Lincoln Square neighborhood. My office and I contacted both the local alderman and the local police district, and both indicated to me and my office that they have had no problems with the Samrdzija family business. The City’s Department of Business Affairs confirmed that the Samrdzija family business has a clean record with no license suspensions or revocations.
This was confirmed by several Rogers Park residents who attended the community meeting and who used to live near Mr. Samrdzija’s business in Lincoln Square. They related they experienced no problems with his establishment, and supported his plans to open up a similar bar and restaurant on Morse Avenue.
Finally, it’s in Mr. Samrdzija’s own self-interest to run a clean establishment. He owns 16 condominium units in the same building that he wishes to rent and evenutally sell when the market eventually turns around. It’s not in his financial interest to run a noisy and disruptive business that would drive away his renters and potential purchasers.
If you have any questions or further comments, please reply to this e-mail or call my office at 773-338-5796.