WICKER PARK — The former Barry’s Drugs — which closed in December after more than 71 years in Wicker Park— could soon be home to an expanded Emporium Arcade Bar and eventually, a second outpost for Logan Square’s Modern Cannabis, if the law will allow it.
According to an application introduced to the City Council’s Committee on Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards on Wednesdaypharmacist Barry Golin with Golin Family Trust would like to expand the neighboring Emporium Arcade Bar into the former Barry’s Drugs storefront as well as operate “a future cannabis dispensary if permitted” at 1370 N. Milwaukee Ave.
The matter will be heard by the committee at its June meeting.
An expansion of the dispensary — for medicinal or even recreational use down the road —would require a license. Right now there are none available.
“If it becomes legal in another year or two, we would consider putting in a recreational cannabis dispensary. When licenses become available again, they will be offered to current license holders. They haven’t passed anything as far as recreational [marijuana] or more medical [marijuana] licenses,” Golin said.
In the March primary election, voters overwhelmingly supported a Cook County referendum to legalize recreational marijuana use in Illinois. The question on the ballot was non-binding, so it was more like a poll, but 73 percent of voters said that pot should be allowed for recreational use.
During a Q&A session at the Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce’s State of the Wards on Thursday, Ald. Joe Moreno (1st) said he plans to support the zoning change, and he would welcome a medicinal or recreational marijuana dispensary in the storefront. Back in 2014, Moreno supported a medical marijuana dispensary at that same location, though the plan never transpired because MOCA-Modern Cannabis found a different spot in Logan Square.
Danny Marks, co-owner of Emporium Arcade Bar at 1366 N. Milwaukee Ave., told Block Club Chicago the zoning change request to a commercial/C zoning is “just preliminary work at this point.”
“The space [next door] became available and we see potential future opportunities to expand both businesses that all would require a C zoning,” Marks said.
Marks stressed that there are “still big ifs at this point” and it’s all up to what any future laws could look like. “It’s a slow process. Just getting the first thing [zoning] going,” he said.
Barry’s Drugs closed on December 12 and has been empty since then, with a “for rent” sign in the window. In mid-January, the pharmacy’s 1,500-pound, 16-foot-tall neon sign advertising cut rate drugs and cosmetics was removed. Best Neon created the sign in 1960 and serviced it over the decades.