OLD TOWN — A boutique liquor retailer has plans to open a store in Old Town’s Wells Street Corridor, but neighbors questioned during a community meeting Thursday if such a store is needed along that strip.
Garfield’s Beverage is a high-end liquor store founded in 1951 in suburban Cicero that has since expanded across the Chicago area. The company wants to open a 3,000-square-foot store at 1435 N. Wells St., said Michael Ezgur, an attorney for Garfield’s.
This would be the retailer’s fourth store in Chicago, following locations in Lakeview, Wicker Park and Bucktown. But at a meeting hosted by the Old Town Merchants and Residents Association, neighbors said the area already has multiple liquor stores, and they raised concerns the warehouse would increase crime, traffic and parking issues.
“When do we say we’ve had enough alcohol establishments on Wells Street?” one neighbor asked. “There are already four to five places to buy alcohol alone.”
Other neighbors pointed to Galleria Liqueurs, a family-owned liquor store less than two blocks north at 1559 N. Wells St., and questioned whether Garfield’s location was too close. The House of Glunz liquor store also is along that stretch at 1206 N. Wells.
Representatives from Garfield’s said they “have never shied away from competition” and think the liquor store would complement the other businesses along Wells.
“We feel like we’re adding to the dynamic nature of the street,” Ezgur said.
Other neighbors worried another liquor store would contribute to crime in the neighborhood and bring more people breaking open-container laws to the parks. But Adam Silverstein, chief operating officer from Garfield’s, assured neighbors that won’t happen.
“We do a lot in the way of how we set up and price our stores so we don’t run into that very often,” Silverstein said. “Most of the consumers who are street-drinking, the products they’ll be buying are things we aren’t selling or we put a price barrier on because we don’t want that image.”
The building plan also includes security cameras on its exterior that are tied into the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communication network, Ezgur said.
To address neighbors’ traffic concerns, Silverstein said the store has no customer parking and is intended to be walkable. He said there is an underground loading dock that vans can access to make deliveries without blocking the street.
The project would require approval of a special-use permit from the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals, which Ezgur said the company has not yet applied for.
“I don’t vote in this matter,” Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th) said at the end of the meeting. “But I have a voice, and I will lend my voice to the community and hope that the commissioners will listen to it.”
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