• Alex Nitkin
    NOV 17, 2021

    Restaurants in industrial neighborhoods can set up outdoor patios under approved measure

    Brewpubs like Goose Island in the Kinzie Industrial Corridor will be able to set up outdoor patio seating under an ordinance set for City Council approval. [Facebook/Goose Island]

    Chicago’s proliferation of outdoor restaurant patios will be free to extend into the industrial districts of the city’s Near West and Northwest Side under a rule change set for final approval on Wednesday.

    The ordinance (O2021-4706), proposed by Ald. Walter Burnett (27) and Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35), will partially reverse the ban on outdoor patios that applies to the city’s 15 Planned Manufacturing Districts. Their push would apply in the Kinzie Industrial Corridor, which stretches through most of the industrial West Loop, and the Northwest Planned Manufacturing District, which spans parts of the West Garfield Park, West Humboldt Park and Hermosa neighborhoods.

    It was one of dozens of measures that advanced out of the City Council Committee on Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards on Tuesday, teeing them up for final approval by the full council on Wednesday.

    “We’re asking to amend the PMD to allow for these restaurants to be able to have outdoor cafes like every other restaurant throughout the city of Chicago, and also for the people who work in these areas to be able to enjoy the outdoors in the fresh air like everyone else in the city,” Burnett told his colleagues on the committee on Tuesday.

    Rather than allowing patios in industrial areas throughout the city, Burnett said he wanted to specifically target the industrial West Loop, which “has become the brewery area.” Most of the breweries also serve food and attract workers from nearby businesses, he added.

    Ald. Daniel La Spata (1) asked how city officials can ensure that “the use is going to be healthy,” saying “the noise and emissions concerns could affect the enjoyment of our outdoor diners.”

    Burnett pointed to Goose Island Brewery’s flagship location at Fulton and Wood streets, where he said brewers “don’t have a problem with their own trucks bothering their patrons.”

    “I think the patrons come there because they want to be around the ambience of…being where the beer is manufactured,” Burnett said. “These places are getting so popular — they’re becoming like tourist attractions — that they need more space.”

    Pat Doerr, managing director of the Hospitality Business Association of Chicago, wrote in a text message to The Daily Line that the change makes it all the more “odd” that traditional taverns are still not allowed to operate in the area, even as taprooms and brewpubs are allowed to multiply.

    “But Chicago is a major center of craft brewing and today’s change will help that industry grow and succeed in a large portion of [the industrial district] covered by today’s change so cheers to that.”

    The measure would also dissolve an existing 3,000-square-foot cap on retail businesses in the Kennedy Planned Manufacturing District, which is bounded by Kedzie Avenue, Addison Street, Kimball Avenue and the Kennedy Expressway in the 35th Ward. The change will bring the city’s newest Portillo’s restaurant, located at the intersection of Addison and Kimball, into compliance with city zoning rules.

    Fulton Market towers steamroll opposition

    The zoning committee on Tuesday also unanimously approved all other measures included in The Daily Line’s preview of the meeting, including two major proposals primed for the red-hot Fulton Market district.

    Two nearby neighbors called into Tuesday’s meeting to pan a proposal (O2021-2002) from developer Mark Goodman to build a 16-story life sciences building with more than 492,000 square feet of office space at 400 N. Elizabeth St., saying it was “out of character” with its surroundings and would clog traffic in the area.

    But Rich Klawiter, the zoning attorney representing the developer, said the project went through a “very robust community input” process that pushed the developer to shorten its proposal by three stories, set it back further from the street and pay for a “litany of traffic improvements.” As a result, the plan scored the endorsement of three local neighborhood groups, he said.

    And Burnett swatted down the opponents’ complaints, saying the site was previously a Budweiser distribution facility that attracted “big trucks, traffic, people all over.”

    “This is going to enhance an old warehouse spot with a lot of trucks into a beautiful building and a lot of amenities to add to the community,” the alderman said. “I know I can’t satisfy everyone…but this building will make the community better, not only for this neighborhood, but also for the city.”

    Officials said the developers will be required to pay $4.5 million into the city’s Neighborhood Opportunity Fund, which feeds capital grants for South and West Side businesses.

    The committee also advanced a proposal (O2021-1972) by Texas-based developer Trammell Crow to build a 26-story tower with 650,000-square-feet of office space, 180 parking spaces and 15,000-square-feet of ground-floor commercial space at 315 N. May St. in the 27th Ward. Across the street at 1112 W. Carroll Ave., the developer plans to build a 33-story tower with 377 residential units, 90 parking spaces and ground-floor retail space. 

    The project was endorsed by the Chicago Plan Commission last month in a 13-3 vote amid questions over whether the developer was reaching hard enough to meet the goals of a new city-backed affordable housing initiative in Fulton Market.

    Related: Approved 2-tower office, apartment complex raise new questions about city’s Fulton Market affordability policy

    But aldermen instantly advanced the proposal on Tuesday after Burnett lavished praise on the design, which he noted was influenced by feedback from the Department of Planning and Development’s new Committee on Design. The towers will be bisected by a “shared street” along the 1100 block of Carroll Avenue, as well as a privately-owned 35,000-square-foot park that will be publicly accessible. And the developers will pay a $9.5 million density bonus fee into the city’s Neighborhood Opportunity Fund, Adopt-a-Landmark Fund and Local Impact Fund.                   

    LeClaire Courts mega-project speeds through

    The committee also gave a speedy and unanimous blessing to a plan (O2021-1201) to build 725 new mixed-income homes and a network of businesses on the former site of the LeClaire Courts public housing complex near the intersection of Cicero Avenue and the Stevenson Expressway in the 22nd Ward.

    The Chicago Plan Commission voted unanimously last month to approve the LeClaire Courts redevelopment after roundly praising the plan by the Chicago Housing Authority, The Habitat Company and Cabrera Capital Partners to build what they billed as a new neighborhood on the 32-acre site.

    Related: LeClaire Courts reconstruction, Fulton Market towers set for Plan Commission approval

    The first phase of the reconstruction project envisions a 60,000-square-foot grocery store, a 50,000-square-foot medical office building and a 3,300-square-foot retail building in the northeast section of the site. The first phase is slated to break ground in spring 2022 and open in spring 2023, according to an attorney representing the development group. 

    Ald. Michael Rodriguez (22) re-upped his staunch support for the project on Tuesday, saying the development group has “gone above and beyond” his requests for public engagement and commitments for public benefits. 

    “This development…really will be a catalyst for economic development on the Southwest Side,” Rodriguez said. “And let me be frank — this will be the largest development on the Southwest Side of Chicago since Midway Airport.”

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