Edgewater residents oppose liquor store proposal, seek alderwoman's support

Some residents in the Edgewater neighborhood are voicing strong opposition to a proposal to rezone a building to accommodate a liquor store, claiming their alderperson isn’t listening.

On Thursday, they held a news conference to make clear they don’t want another liquor store in the neighborhood, a plan currently being pitched for the old Granville Pictures building at Broadway and Granville.

Supporters of the proposal argue that the Art Deco space has been mostly empty since 2017 and is ripe for a new business. However, residents representing three neighborhood groups who gathered at the site said they have fought long and hard to eliminate liquor stores and improve the neighborhood, and they don’t want to regress.

They suggest two other local businesses—an antique store and an art gallery—would be a better fit for the space. They are calling on 48th Ward Alderwoman Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth to "do the right thing" and oppose the rezoning for the liquor store.

"When in Chicago, when in any city, has anyone ever said, ‘Boy, my neighborhood got so much better when they brought in a package liquor store?’ Never!" said Steve Hutton, a 20-year Edgewater resident. "This is a historic corner and historic building. We have a lot of options here that don’t involve rezoning."

"It’s not just allowing a liquor store to go into this building, it’s facilitating a liquor store to go into this building, and that’s because we’re going to have to go through legal somersaults," said Patricia Sharkey, president of the ENN-NEON Block Club. "We’re going to have to upend the zoning of this entire building."

However, Rock Evans, another neighborhood resident, supports the liquor store proposal. "I’ve seen this building empty for so long. A liquor store isn’t just selling liquor. There are a bunch of other things you could possibly buy at a liquor store. I think if there is an opportunity for another small business to move in here, why not?" he said.

Alderwoman Manaa-Hoppenworth has not disclosed her stance on the liquor store proposal but issued a statement Thursday.

"I am taking my time and listening to the community. Hundreds of neighbors have engaged with our feedback process. The Zoning Advisory Council voted on Tuesday, and I am waiting on their official recommendations. The ZAC is one form of community feedback that I take into consideration, alongside the direct feedback of our neighbors, community members, and business owners," she said.

Sharkey emphasized the urgency of the decision.

"This has gone on long enough. It’s time to make a decision. Tell them to find another location," she said.