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Location of ATM at Wicker Park Strip Mall Raises Security Concerns

By Alisa Hauser | February 19, 2013 6:55am | Updated on February 19, 2013 11:08am

WICKER PARK — Need cash in the 1700 block of North Milwaukee Avenue in Wicker Park?

Just look for the new ATM on the far end of a strip mall, partially obscured by a garbage bin, and you'll find a spot to get some dough, 24/7.

Charles Stanfield, 55, a sales consultant at Evolution Wine & Spirits at 1704 N. Milwaukee Ave. — one of five tenants in the plaza — said customers "ask me all the time if we have an ATM."

Since the machine's installation about a week ago, Stanfield said he tells customers, "'Yes, it's over there in the corner of the parking lot, by the Dumpster."

William "Bill" Senne, founder of Property Consultants, has owned the strip mall for 20 years and despite four bright red banners advertising the new 24-hour ATM, called it "kind of a non-event; it's just another way to increase revenue for the center."

"We thought about getting an ATM for a long period of time, there was really no other space to put it," Senne said, he didn't think the location of the machine is "any more scary than any other location that you get money from.

"Even at 2 or 3 a.m., it's well lit, there's a security camera. You can see if anyone's around [before using it]. It's about being aware of your surroundings."

Erik Sierra, 30, an exterminator for a pest control company who was picking up his company's mail at its P.O. box in the strip mall Monday afternoon, said he would not use the ATM after the liquor store in the plaza closes at 10 p.m. Saturday.

"Even with the light there, not after dark. I'm aware of this 'hood," the Jefferson Park resident said, shaking his head.

Roscoe Village-based Merchant Enterprises Inc. installed the ATM earlier this month.

Jim McGarry, co-owner of Merchant Enterprises Inc., referred to the machine as "just a regular ATM" and said it was installed because "the owner of that strip plaza was thinking an ATM would do well there."

Founded in 2011, Merchant Enterprises operates more than 2,000 ATM machines in the Midwest and has other clients in the neighborhood, including a built-in ATM next to Silver Cloud Bar and Grill at 1700 N. Damen Ave.

Recently McGarry said he removed an ATM from the exterior of Skewerz, a restaurant at 1560 N. Damen Ave. that closed in May

In addition to the new ATM at the strip mall, McGarry said he's working on installing a kiosk ATM on Milwaukee Avenue, just south of North Avenue.