834 W. Armitage Update

Dear Neighbors:

I wanted to update you with respect to the proposed Walgreen’s at 834 W. Armitage. As you are aware, we held a community meeting on October 1, 2012. Unfortunately, the developer and Walgreen’s came completely unprepared to discuss the proposed architectural plans or operational considerations at the site. Thus, the community was left with a number of questions that I expect Walgreen’s to answer at our next public meeting. What I do know, however, is that the site is zoned B3-2 just like the rest of the retail corridor on Armitage between Halsted and Kenmore. This zoning gives the developer the ability to construct and lease the proposed building to a retailer like Walgreen’s as of right. Notwithstanding the zoning issue, my office still has considerable influence on the kind of operations that can take place, including the ability to sell liquor and location of any requested loading zones. I have categorically stated that no liquor sales will be allowed at 834 W. Armitage in light of the long standing lack of liquor sales since the 1920’s when the church took over the property. Accordingly, I recently introduced a liquor moratorium that will prohibit the sale of packaged goods on the north side of Armitage between Fremont and Halsted.
Moreover, I have recently advised Walgreen’s that their plan for loading, discussed at the October 1, 2012 meeting, is completely unacceptable. No loading will be permitted on Dayton and I will not support a loading zone permit on Armitage on the basis of the number of trucks and type of loading Walgreen’s discussed. Additionally, the current footprint of the building is simply inadequate for accommodating truck parking and loading. Walgreen’s and the developer have simply not thought through the traffic impact on residents and businesses in the area.
Despite the fact that developer may have a zoning right to lease its space to Walgreen’s, I have insisted that the developer follow the City of Chicago guidelines for building in a landmark district. As I mentioned on October 1st, all the merchants and owners along Armitage and Halsted have made substantial investments, and face substantial restrictions, because of the landmark status of our block, the only landmark retail district in Chicago. We cannot allow this developer or Walgreen’s to take advantage of a loophole that excluded the site from the landmark district.
With respect to next steps, the Chicago Department of Transportation has approved the developer’s demolition plan which includes using up to 11 feet of North Dayton to stage the demolition. Please visit my website so that you can be informed about the location of fencing and barriers on Armitage and Dayton – https://ward43.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/834-Armitage-Demolition-Site-Plan-Logistics-1.pdf. We will be working with CDOT and monitoring the developer’s use of the public way through this process to ensure compliance with the City’s municipal code, but I encourage you to call our office if you have concerns about the work. The developer does not intend to start actually razing the building until the beginning of November. I assure you, however, that no building permits for the construction of any new Walgreen’s store have been approved. When the developer has completed architectural plans that have been vetted through the City’s landmark division, we will then hold a community meeting so you have a chance to review the same. Not one brick will be laid until the developer has demonstrated that the proposed structure he intends to construct will complement the historic nature of the Armitage/Halsted commercial district. As I have stated before, I am committed to an open process that protects your interests and I will continue to update you with next steps and meeting dates as more information becomes available. If you have any questions on this project in the meantime, please feel free to contact me at yourvoice@ward43.org or773.348.9500.
Michele Smith
43rd Ward Alderman