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Uptown in the News  

May 16, 2007
Liquor license on hold
License sought for Wilson Yard location
By (Lorraine Swanson)

A decision to lift a moratorium on the issuance of new liquor licenses in the new Wilson Yard TIF development has been put on hold by Alderman Helen Shiller, 46th.

Last month, Shiller petitioned the Committee on License and Consumer Protection to lift the moratorium on the west side of Broadway between Leland and Montrose Avenues that will enable Aldiís to sell wine and beer when the Wilson Yard store opens in June.

"We donít anticipate opening with liquor," said Chris Stair, director of Real Estate for Aldi Groupís Batavia, Illinois division, that oversees stores in the Chicago region.

"(The Wilson Yard Aldiís) will only sell a combination of domestic and imported beers and wine," Stair added.

The discount supermarket chain has retained an attorney to help in securing a liquor license for the Wilson yard Aldiís, that will replace its existing Uptown store at 4450 N. Broadway.

The decision to lift the moratorium came as a surprise to some block clubs and community organizations. Residents who live near Wilson Yard have complained of debris and crime resulting from public drinking in the area.

"If you walk down Montrose between Broadway and Clifton, itís just full of bottles and cans. Itís a mess," said Pat Reuter, of the Graceland Wilson Neighbors Association block club adjacent to Wilson Yard.

"There are packaged liquor stores (all) around (Wilson Yard). Why do they have to put another one there," Reuter added.

Several years ago the Uptown Chicago Commission visited 28 Uptown liquor establishments and asked businesses to voluntarily stop selling individual cans and bottles of beer and malt liquor, as well as half-pints of hard liquor, maintaining that it contributed to public intoxication.

"We havenít publicly taken a stand," said Kathy Cook, president of the Uptown Chicago Commission, a community group focused on public safety, development and land use for the Uptown neighborhood.

"That particular site has a lot of public drinking and all the other problems that evolve from that. Aldiís in the past hasnít been helpful in terms of calling 911 or getting problem people off their property. Theyíre not watch dogging their property," Cook said.

Yvonne Odell, a staff assistant to Shiller, said the proposal to lift the moratorium was deferred because of a change in personnel at Aldiís corporate office. Stair recently assumed responsibility for Aldiís real estate interests a few weeks ago.

"We want to make sure we have a working relationship with (Stair) and see if heís on the same page," Odell said.

"One of the issues on the table is making the new Aldiís more attentive to patrolling its lot," Odell added.

Odell could also not confirm if a community meeting would be held in the future to gather residentsí input into lifting the liquor license moratorium in the Wilson Yard area.

The Wilson Yard Aldiís, one of the anchor stores in the Wilson Yard development, is tentatively scheduled to open on June 4, pending final city inspections. Other Aldi stores throughout the city carry both wine and beer.

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