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Lincoln Park, Old Town

Manhandler Saloon Could Become Apartments And Home To A New Restaurant

A major restaurant group said it's interested in opening in the development, which would bring another eatery to a busy stretch of Halsted Street.

A rendering shows developers' plans to convert the Manhandler Saloon into a three-story apartment building with a restaurant storefront.
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LINCOLN PARK — The Manhandler Saloon in Lincoln Park could be redeveloped into a three-story apartment building with a Lettuce Entertain You restaurant potentially opening on the first floor under a new proposal.

Developer and Lincoln Park neighbor Mike Krueger and his team want to buy the bar at 1948 N. Halsted St. and convert it into a 38-foot, residential and retail building. Manhandler Saloon closed in November, according to LGBTQ travel blog GayCities.

Kreuger’s plans include converting the property into three apartments on the building’s top two floors, with the first floor reserved for retail.

Ethan Samson, an executive partner from Lettuce Entertain You, said at a Wednesday community meeting that the company supports the proposal. The restaurant group already manages Seaside’s and Quality Crab & Oyster Bah at 1962 N. Halsted St., neighboring the closed bar.

“We have discussed with the developer and are interested in the possibility of doing a restaurant in the retail premises at this location,” Samson said. “Given our current operations nearby, we can leverage existing vendors without materially increasing delivery traffic in the area.”

The building would also have three outdoor parking spaces near the lot’s rear, said Nick Ftikas, Krueger’s attorney.

Credit: Provided
A rendering shows the developers’ plans before meeting with the RANCH Triangle Association and making adjustments for a “classic Chicago” aesthetic.

Ramiel Kenoun, the project’s architect, said the proposal was updated after the group met with the RANCH Triangle Association for feedback. The neighbor group wasn’t on board with the original, more modern designs, Kenoun said.

Some changes included switching to a red-brick exterior because “they had voiced some concerns and a preference toward more classic Chicago architecture,” Kenoun said.

The developers also added stone detailing to the building’s facade and replaced the glass railings on its balconies with standard ornamental iron railings, Kenoun said.

“We feel this is a good response and a good-faith effort on our end to resolve those concerns of the RANCH Triangle group and come up with an aesthetic that works for all of Halsted,” Kenoun said.

Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) praised the developer for responding to RANCH Triangle’s concerns.

“It’s been a helpful conversation to hear what people have to say about it, and I’d like to thank the developer, their team and the RANCH Triangle Association for coming together and coming up with something that really makes everybody happy,” Smith said.

Most neighbors shared favorable opinions Wednesday, and the developers received letters of support from more than two dozen nearby residents.

However, one resident who owns two lots a few doors down from the saloon said the development would depress her property values, and she worried the alley would not be able to handle more traffic for another eatery. That stretch near Halsted Street and Armitage Avenue also is home to Summer House Santa Monica, Stella Barra, Pasta Palazzo, Marquee Lounge, La Vaca Margarita Bar and J9 Wine Bar.

“The current restaurants have handled things poorly. Our alley cannot support more retail, and especially not a restaurant,” she said.

The proposal is expected to go before the city’s Zoning Committee during its July 20 meeting, Smith said.

Jake Wittich is a Report for America corps member covering Lakeview, Lincoln Park and LGBTQ communities across the city for Block Club Chicago.

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