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Wicker Park, Bucktown, West Town

Developer Eyes Former Bank Building Near Division Blue Line Station For Rooftop Bar

The tenant who signs the lease for the rooftop bar would also take over the downstairs Division Street restaurant space formerly home to The Bedford.

Hannah Alani/Block Club Chicago
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This story has been updated after the city shut down a large party at the location of the planned development.

WICKER PARK — A busy Wicker Park intersection may be getting a new rooftop restaurant and bar.

The owners of a former bank at 1200 N. Ashland Ave. asked the city for a zoning change to let them to convert the rooftop into a bar and restaurant.

On Tuesday, Jim Panella, vice president of RDM Development and Investments, shared renderings with neighbors during a 1st Ward zoning meeting via Zoom. The rooftop bar would have a maximum capacity of 150 people.

RDM has a tenant in mind, but Panella would not disclose their name. A lease has yet to be signed, he said.

Panella did say the tenant is a locally-owned group with multiple Chicago restaurants. If all goes as planned, the rooftop restaurant would open in the summer.

Whoever signs the lease for the rooftop bar would also revitalize the basement restaurant space formerly home to The Bedford. The spot has been vacant since the cocktail bar closed in 2017.

Bar guests would access the rooftop through the ground-floor restaurant, Panella said. Guests and food from the downstairs kitchen would get to the roof via elevator.

“This is great dual use in a way, where you still have that speakeasy vibe downstairs,” Panella said. “Also … everyone in Chicago loves rooftop patios.”

From street view, the bar would add no more than 3 feet of height to the building, Panella said. The zoning change would not permit further new development at the property.

The bank building was built in 1920 and has a landmarks designation from the city, Panella said.

Early Sunday the city broke up an illegal 300-person party in the old Bedford basement. 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.

Before Ald. Daniel La Spata (1st) takes the zoning change to City Council, the RDM team will need neighborhood approval. The next step is for Panella to meet with the Planning & Development Committee of the Wicker Park Committee, the local neighborhood association.

In the meantime, you can share feedback with the 1st Ward here.

Led by developer Robert Mosky, the RDM group owns a 33-unit apartment building at 1624 W. Division St. next to the bank building.

The group also owns a vacant lot at 1628 W. Division St., where RDM is tied up in a series of legal fights regarding the proposed construction of a high-rise apartment tour.

The project in question, a 16-story, 168-unit building, was approved by City Council last year following years of fierce neighborhood opposition.

Related content:

Wicker Park Neighbors Push Alderman To Block 16-Story Tower — But Ordinance Has Stalled

Neighbors Say There’s No Room For Another High-Rise On Wicker Park Corner, But A Final Push From Moreno May Have Sealed Their Fate

New Wicker Park Alderman Works To Undo Rival’s Controversial Final Move In Office

Battle Between Wicker Park Developers Over Jam-Packed Corner Heads To Court: ‘The City Should Just Fold Now’

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