CHICAGO — The city broke up a 300-person party early Sunday in the basement of a former bank in Wicker Park.
The illegal party was being held in the basement of 1612 W. Division Ave. — the former home of the Bedford, a cocktail bar, city officials said Monday. The “dangerous and unlicensed commercial party” had about 300 people who weren’t wearing face coverings or social distancing, Isaac Reichman, a spokesman for the city’s Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Department, said in an email.
The Vault/All Access, which organized the party, received five cease and desist orders; a closure order due to dangerous conditions, like not having smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors; and nine citations for violating coronavirus restrictions, not having proper business licenses, allowing smoking indoors and operating sparklers indoors.
The organizers of the party could not immediately be reached for comment.
“I’m incredibly frustrated that a business would choose to act in complete disregard of both BACP and the governor’s economic restrictions,” Ald. Daniel La Spata (1st) said in an email. “In a time when so many of our businesses are being disciplined and making painful sacrifices, selfish actions like this hurt both our public health and economic recovery.”
RDM Development and Investments, which owns the property, recently asked the city for a zoning change to convert the building’s rooftop into a bar and restaurant. The future tenant would occupy the rooftop as well as the basement restaurant areas.
Kyle Sneed, president of the Wicker Park Committee, called the party “outrageous.”
The committee is an influential neighborhood association that routinely weighs in on matters of importance before the City Council, including zoning change requests. Before La Spata introduces RDM’s request for a zoning change, the developer will need support from WPC members.
“I’m not sure how it’s possible for something like (that party) to actually come to fruition right now,” Sneed said. “As a community member, I’m angered. The building owner, party operator and patrons should be ashamed of themselves. Blatant disregard for public health and selfish on many levels.”
Large gatherings are currently illegal under city and state rules due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Chicago and the rest of Illinois are in the midst of a second wave of COVID-19, and officials are worried large and small gatherings from Thanksgiving will lead to another surge and will increase the number of people hospitalized and dying.
“Actions like this are a slap in the face to the thousands of businesses and millions of Chicagoans that are making sacrifices every day to keep our city safe, and we will continue cracking down on this inexcusable activity,” Rosa Escareno, commissioner of the city’s business department, said in a news release.
The city has conducted thousands of investigations into businesses since the start of the pandemic. Nine other businesses have been given one-day closure orders since the end of October due to violating coronavirus restrictions.
Among them was the Chicago Sports Complex, which held a 600-person party that the city shut down over Halloween weekend.
Other violations, according to the city:
- Wildberry Pancake, 196 E. Pearson St.: Was given a closure order for allowing indoor dining despite multiple notices to correct and citations. Wildberry was also ordered to remain closed until the city’s business department approves a plan for it to reopen.
- The Ballroom, 6351-59 S. Cottage Grove Ave.: Was given a closure order for having a party with more than 200 people.
- Fat Fish Bar & Grill, 234-236 W. 31st St.: Was given a closure order for violating social distancing and face covering requirements on its outdoor patio. Fat Fish was also ordered to remain closed until the city’s business department approves a plan for it to reopen.
- Black Cat Lounge, 1640 W. 115th St.: Was given a closure order for having patrons drinking indoors and for not enforcing face covering and social distancing rules.
- The Delta, 1745 W. North Ave.: Was given a closure order for violating social distancing and face covering requirements on its outdoor patio.
- Mariscos La Diabla, 4222-24 W. 63rd St.: Was given a closure order for having patrons eating indoors and for not enforcing face covering and social distancing rules.
- Effe Inc, 426 W. 63rd St.: Was given a closure order for having patrons eating indoors and for not enforcing face covering and social distancing rules.
- Linda’s Place, 1044 W. 51st St.: Was given a closure order for having patrons eating indoors and for not enforcing face covering and social distancing rules.
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