I am writing about the proposal to lift the liquor license moratorium on Devon Avenue to allow for a brew pub at 1221-27 W. Devon (at Magnolia).
Forty-eighth Ward Alderman Harry Osterman is considering a zoning change that would allow the owner of the property,Scott Whelan, to construct five residential units on the second floor of the building and to put a brew pub into one of the commercial retail spaces on the first floor (see the elevation below). The Brew Pub would be owned and managed by Alex Drayer and his wife, Brittany.
In addition to a zoning change, the proposal also requires the City Council to lift the moratorium on the issuance of new liquor licenses that currently exists on Devon Avenue from Broadway to Ravenswood. The moratorium area falls into three wards–the 49th Ward, the 48th Ward and the 40th Ward, represented by Alderman Patrick O’Connor.
We three aldermen held a community meeting last week to consider the proposal to lift the moratorium. We also received community input from emails to our offices and comments on various social media.
After careful consideration of the opinions of the community residents who attended the meeting and corresponded with our offices, we decided to SUPPORT the proposal to lift the moratorium. It is my understanding that Alderman Osterman will also support the zoning change to enable a brew pub to operate at that location.
Why I Support the Proposal
Approximately 80 people attended the community meeting on the proposal. Almost everone in attendance expressed support for the proposal.
Though there was near-unanimous support for the brew pub, some meeting attendees expressed concern that lifting the moratorium could allow less desirable liquor businesses to open on Devon. Those concerns were alleviated in large degree by the fact that in the vast majority of locations on Devon, any use involving liquor would require either a zoning change or a special use permit from the City of Chicago Zoning Board of Appeals.
Furthermore, any liquor license, including the liquor license for the proposed brew pub, also must satisfy theCity’s criteria for a liquor license and receive the approval of the City of Chicago’s Local Liquor Control Commissioner.
Finally, all three aldermen indicated they would support reinstating a liquor moratorium on Devon once the one-year reinstatement ban expires.
At the conclusion of the community meeting, Alderman Osterman asked for a show of hands of those who supported lifting the moratorium. Over 70 people raised their hands in support of lifting the moratorium and only five raised their hands in opposition. This overwhelming support for the proposal and lifting the moratorium was reflected in the emails I received in my office.
This small brew pub will contribute greatly to the commercial revitalization that Devon is currently enjoying. In addition to the brew pub, the community last year expressed strong support for an upscale bistro that is planned for the north side of Devon at Lakewood. The owners of the proposed bistro are in the final stages of gathering signatures that would remove a prohibition on liquor in that precinct.
As a result of the strong community support, Aldermen Osterman, O’Connor and I last week introduced an ordinance in the City Council that will lift the moratorium. I expect the City Council will adopt the ordinance at its September 24th meeting. It should go into effect in late October.
We are all looking forward to our new Devon Avenue businesses!