DOWNTOWN — Two nightlife bans — one targeting new late-night bars in the 2nd Ward and another targeting new bars in parts of Old Town — were approved by City Council Wednesday.

The two ordinances were introduced by Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) in an effort to put a stop to new 4 a.m. liquor licenses in his ward, including banning all future liquor licenses along a popular stretch of Wells Street in Old Town.

A third ordinance that aimed to block additional liquor licenses in parts of the Near North Side also passed Wednesday.

“We can’t handle any more liquor establishments; [we] are maxed out. … The police commander himself said I can’t have one more bar closing at the same time,” Hopkins said last month. “The streets get flooded, they just can’t handle it.”

The first ordinance establishes a liquor moratorium on Wells Street from West Schiller Street to West North Avenue. All existing liquor license holders will be grandfathered in.

This means no additional liquor licenses would be allowed on this stretch, which is known for young 20-somethings who often engage in loitering, littering, vandalism, public urination and vomiting, neighbors have said.

Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) at a special City Council meeting to confirm Larry Snelling as Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department on Sept. 27, 2023. Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago

The ban comes after a hectic summer for the neighborhood, which included a car crashing into a bar’s patio in July and at least two shootings in August in the areas surrounding Wells Street.

The second ordinance bans additional late-hour liquor licenses throughout the entire 2nd Ward, which includes parts of Old Town, Near North Side and Downtown. Existing license holders would also be grandfathered in.

According to the city’s data portal, there are 13 late-hour license holders in the 2nd Ward. These businesses are allowed to serve alcohol and stay open until 4 a.m. Monday-Saturday, and until 5 a.m. Sunday.

The third ordinance creates a liquor moratorium on the east side of Wayne Avenue from Webster to Clybourn Avenue, and on the east side of Clybourn Avenue from Wayne to Lakewood Avenue. It also includes the south side of Webster Avenue from Racine to Lakewood Avenue and both sides of Webster Avenue from Lakewood to Southport Avenue.

Hopkins previously looked into banning new late-night liquor licenses in River North following a mass shooting outside a McDonald’s that killed two people and wounded seven. At the time, Hopkins had cited an increase in shootings and violent crime in the Near North (18th) police district, which encompasses River North.

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