Skip to contents
Wicker Park, Bucktown, West Town

Wicker Park’s The Point Sues City Over Extended Closure — One Year After Police Shut It Down

Owner Jun Lin says he's being scapegoated for speaking out about Chicago violence, and the city is using code violations to keep The Point closed — even though other businesses in the building are open.

The Point, 1565 N. Milwaukee Ave., in Wicker Park on Jan. 6, 2023.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
  • Credibility:

WICKER PARK — The owner of a Wicker Park bar and music venue said city officials have purposefully worked to keep the business closed and violated his due process rights since police shut down the nightclub last year, according to a lawsuit filed last week.

The Point, 1565 N. Milwaukee Ave., has been closed since police labeled it a “public safety threat” in February 2022 after two shootings occurred outside the bar in less than four months.

Raymond R. Jones, 32, was killed in a shootout after allegedly opening fire outside the bar on Oct. 10, 2021. Four others were wounded in the incident.

A second shooting took place Feb. 6, 2022. Jordan Mendez was inside The Point after working at a nearby bar when someone outside fired shots into the business, hitting Mendez below his right eye. Mendez survived but underwent several surgeries.

The person charged in that shooting, Daveon Montgomery, had been at the bar that night and left about 15 minutes before the shooting, according to the lawsuit.

After the second shooting, police issued a summary closure notice to The Point. That can keep a business closed for up to six months if owners do not agree to a safety plan with the city or submit an appeal.

But The Point owner Jun Lin, who sometimes goes by Joe, said the city is using its summary closure process, along with enforcement of building code violations, to force him to modify the bar’s hours of operations or shut it down entirely.

The Point holds a late-hour liquor license, allowing it to stay open until 4 a.m. Fridays and 5 a.m. Saturdays. It opened in May 2021 in the Flat Iron Arts Building.

Since its closure last year, “the city has engaged in a campaign of punitive, retaliatory and harassing conduct,” according to the lawsuit. The Point “seeks assistance from the court to halt the blatant violations and prevent the city, and its investigatory and prosecutorial arms, from continuing their malicious and dogged attempts to prevent plaintiff from operating indefinitely.”

The lawsuit also alleges The Point’s closure and subsequent reopening delays are part of a larger campaign by the city to shut down other late-night bars and clubs.

Four counts in the lawsuit name the city of Chicago and several city departments and officials. The fifth count includes The Point’s former landlord Flat Iron Building LLC, which is operated by Berger Realty Group. The company sold the Flat Iron Arts Building last year to North American Real Estate.

Credit: Mina Bloom/Block Club Chicago
A sign on The Point explains Police Supt. David Brown has ordered the club to close for public safety reasons, following two recent shootings.

Lin attempted to negotiate a safety plan with the city following the summary closure, according to the lawsuit.

But after repeated back-and-forths, Lin and the city could not agree on the specifics of a reopening plan, according to the lawsuit.

A hearing officer for the city’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection ruled in a report in July a “public safety threat” did occur at the Point during the events leading up to and including the February shooting.

Officials said because the Feb. 6 shooting occurred within a “nexus to the operation” of The Point, one of several criteria that must be met to justify a summary closure, police correctly shut down the venue.

Because of that ruling, The Point could not reopen until at least Aug. 8, the required six months after it was shut down.

Lin has repeatedly argued the bar’s staff did nothing wrong. Employees searched and checked the ID of the man charged in the attack and used video to identify him on social media, Lin told Block Club last year.

The city’s July report essentially backs that up, and the city’s reasoning rests only on the crime occurring within the “nexus” of The Point, Lin said.

Under that standard, the city’s logic could be applied to anyone doing business within proximity to violent crime, Lin said.

“Defendants improperly used the Summary Closure Ordinance … for the ulterior purposes of intimidating, oppressing, punishing, and/or harassing Plaintiff to modify or revoke Plaintiff’s Late-Hour License, or to close the business down,” according to the lawsuit.

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Jun Lin, owner of The Point at 1565 N. Milwaukee, walks past the stage in the Wicker Park music venue on June 3, 2021.

In an interview Monday, Lin said he believes the city continues to retaliate against him for speaking out about the spike in violence over the past several years. The shootings outside The Point were “part of a citywide violence problem and we were bystanders,” he said.

“Because I spoke out about the violence in the city and I criticized the mayor, all the sudden, all this effort is made to keep my business closed,” Lin said.

Lin said the finding of the summary closure appeal process backed him up.

“If we couldn’t have prevented anything, why are we ordered to close?” he said. “In the year we’ve been closed, city violence is still out of control. The answer isn’t to close small businesses.”

A spokesperson for the city’s Law Department said Monday it had not been served with the complaint and declined to comment on ongoing litigation.

Further Delays

The end of the summary closure process would have allowed The Point to reopen in August, but the business has remained closed because of lingering building code violations, Lin said.

On Feb. 18, 2022, the city issued an emergency closure notice after inspectors found numerous issues at The Point and in the building’s basement, according to a document filed with the lawsuit and signed by buildings Commissioner Matthew Beaudet.

The Flat Iron Arts Building is home to several other bars and numerous artist studios on its upper floors, and many of the violations apply to the entire building, according to inspection reports. But the emergency closure notice was only addressed to The Point.

That was done on purpose, according to the lawsuit.

The Point “was singled out in the Emergency Closure Notice as a means to keep plaintiff closed longer than the maximum period identified in the Summary Closure Ordinance, and so that the city could either modify or revoke plaintiff’s Late-Hour License during the period wherein plaintiff remained closed,” according to the lawsuit.

Department of Buildings’ records show the address failed another inspection Aug. 25, with citations almost identical to those from Feb. 18.

If city officials “believe that building is a danger and has to be closed, why have they let all the other businesses stay open?” Lin said.

In a statement, Berger Realty principal Erica Berger said the company spent money on “required repairs” last year.

“Even after accepting an offer for the building in June 2022, Berger Realty Group and Flat Iron Building LLC continued to maintain and repair the building, spending over $250,000 to address the required repairs throughout the spring and into the early fall. We did what made sense given the context as well as what we could execute, in keeping with our decades of care for The Flat Iron Building and its tenants,” Berger said in an email Monday.

Lin said his current landlord, North American Real Estate, has not told him when or whether the repairs will be made so The Point can reopen.

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
The Lyon’s Den Hookah Lounge, 2123 W Division St., in Ukrainian Village, on Jan. 6, 2023, where Austin McAllister was shot and killed Jan. 1 outside.

Uneven Enforcement?

The Point’s lawsuit alleges its closure is part of a larger effort by the city to close late-night bars across Chicago, while letting other businesses stay open even after violent incidents.

The filing lists several examples of shootings and other crimes near businesses that did not result in their closure. That includes the death of Austin McAllister, who was shot and killed Jan. 1 outside the Lyon’s Den Hookah Lounge, 2123 W. Division St., while working as a bouncer.

Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd), whose ward includes the Lyon’s Den, requested police issue a summary closure order for the hookah lounge. But police have not moved to close Lyon’s Den and do not plan to do so, Sgt. Michael Karczewski told neighbors at a community meeting last month.

“In order for us to implement a summary closure, there has to be a violation done from the business itself,” Karczewski said at the meeting. “In this specific incident from that evening, Lyon’s Den had done everything as a business what they were supposed to do. And so, in that reasoning for it, even though it was a tragic incident, the Police Department cannot hold the business at that point liable.”

The Point’s lawsuit uses that example and others to allege the city has “an official policy, custom or practice of penalizing businesses that hold a Late-Hour License for discriminatory reasons.”

The lawsuit did not list the case of Wicker Park’s DSTRKT Bar & Grill, 1540 N. Milwaukee Ave., which was shut down by summary closure on New Year’s Eve, just hours after three men who allegedly fought inside the business were shot in a nearby alley. 

DSTRKT does not have a late-hour bar license, and it closes at 2 a.m. Fridays and 3 a.m. Saturdays.

Subscribe to Block Club Chicago, an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.

Click here to support Block Club with a tax-deductible donation. 

Thanks for subscribing to Block Club Chicago, an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods. Click here to support Block Club with a tax-deductible donation.

Listen to “It’s All Good: A Block Club Chicago Podcast”: