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Lincoln Park, Old Town

Manhandler Saloon In Lincoln Park To Become Apartments, Restaurant With City Council Approval

The Manhandler Saloon, which closed its doors for good in November, will soon become a three-story apartment building with a restaurant on the first floor.

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, an LGBTQ-friendly bar in Lincoln Park that closed last year, will soon become a three-story apartment building with a restaurant on the first floor.

The City Council on Wednesday approved a proposal by developer Mike Krueger to buy the bar at 1948 N. Halsted St. and convert it into a 38-foot residential and retail building. The Manhandler Saloon closed in November, according to LGBTQ travel blog GayCities.

The proposal was supported by Ald. Michele Smith (43rd), whose ward encompasses the site, during the city’s Committee on Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards meeting on 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.

Krueger and his team presented their plans to redevelop the building’s site during a community meeting held earlier this month. Their plans also include three outdoor parking spaces located at the lot’s rear.

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.

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

During that community meeting, 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.

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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