An e-sports lounge has been proposed for the storefront in the massive apartment complex at 5200 N. Sheridan Rd. Credit: Facebook/E Blue International

EDGEWATER — After waiting out what was hoped to be the worst of the pandemic, an esports cafe is coming to Edgewater.

The business called X Fun Gaming Cafe has won the City Council’s approval to open at 5214 N. Sheridan Road. With its zoning approval now in place, the cafe can seek business and building permits and potentially open early next year, said Dan Luna, chief of staff to Ald. Harry Osterman (48th).

With the City Council approval, a classic building in Edgewater will be the home of the very modern tenant.

X Fun Gaming Cafe’s plans were first unveiled in a community meeting in January 2020, but the plans were put on hold because of coronavirus, Luna said. The community review process resumed in June as the business sought a zoning change.

The esports lounge is set to inhabit the Edison apartment building, the 223-unit apartment building that was renovated in 2017. Formerly known as the Sheridan Edgewater Apartments, the building was constructed in the 1920s.

Since its rehab, the building’s multiple retail spaces have sat empty. Hunter Cannon, a broker for the building’s retail space, said having the esports lounge will lure tenants to the other storefronts.

Esports is a fast-growing industry centered around electronic gaming, usually played on a specialized computer. Bronzeville is set to be home to Chicago’s first esports gaming stadium and the Chicago Park District has launched esports tournaments.

X Fun Gaming Cafe would be one of a few esports lounges in Chicago. The brand X Fun is a franchise with locations in Indiana, Texas and California.

X Fun Gaming Cafe is seeking to open in this storefront on the ground floor of the Edison apartment building, 5214 N. Sheridan Rd. [Joe Ward/Block Club Chicago]

The cafe will have 82 computer gaming stations, six video game console stations and two virtual reality areas, Tim Barton, attorney for the business owners, said at Tuesday’s Zoning Committee meeting.

Customers will be charged an hourly rate to access the gaming stations. Food will also be served at the site but not alcohol. Its hours will be noon to 2 a.m. on weekdays and noon to 3 a.m. on weekends, Barton said.

Business co-owner Casper Chen said she chose Edgewater for her esports cafe because of its proximity to Loyola and DePaul universities, with esports being a popular activity among college students and recent graduates.

The business received support from neighbors as well from nearby Goudy Elementary.

“It’s a unique business for our neighborhood,” Osterman (48th) said at the first community meeting on X Fun. “This industry has exploded. Ten years from now, it will be something that is much more prevalent.”

The renovated storefront at 5214 N. Sheridan Rd where X Fun Gaming Cafe is seeking to open. [Joe Ward/Block Club Chicago]

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