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Lincoln Park, Old Town

Lincoln Park’s Manhandler Saloon Could Become Apartments, Restaurant After City Council Vote Wednesday

The city's Zoning Committee approved developers plans to build a three-story apartment building with a restaurant on the first floor at the site of the old Manhandler Saloon.

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 — A three-story apartment building with a restaurant on the first floor could replace the Manhandler Saloon in Lincoln Park after a proposal for the development cleared a key city panel Tuesday.

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

The city’s Committee on Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards voted to approve the proposal during its meeting Tuesday. The plan will now go before the City Council on Wednesday.

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.

During a community meeting held earlier this month, project architect Ramiel Kenoun 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 at the time.

During that meeting, neighbors questioned what kind of restaurant would be moving into the space, and Ethan Samson, an executive partner from Lettuce Entertain You, said the restaurant group has been in talks with Krueger about possibly opening another restaurant in the building’s ground floor.

Lettuce Entertain You 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.”

Most neighbors shared favorable opinions during that meeting, 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.

Ald. Michele Smith (43rd), whose ward encompasses the site, expressed her support for the proposal during the Zoning meeting Tuesday.

“We negotiated with the community and came up with a plan that fits into the neighborhood, allows a new restaurant to come into play we hope, and some nice apartments above right on Halsted Street,” Smith said.

Also Tuesday, the Zoning Committee approved plans to build a four-story, mixed use building at 3244 N. Lincoln Ave. in Lakeview. The building would be a transit-oriented development with no parking spaces and house seven residential units, according to Ftikas, who represented the property’s owner, 3244 Lincoln LLC.

A separate proposal to build a five-story, mixed-use building at 3160–3162 N. Broadway in Lakeview was also approved. That development would have 17 residential units, six parking spaces and retail space on the ground floor, according to attorney Katriina McGuire.

Both proposals will also go to City Council on Wednesday for a final vote.

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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