NORTH CENTER — With the announcement of a Starbucks and Potbelly Sandwich Shop coming to Western Avenue, replacing a vacant lot formerly home to a car wash, the thoroughfare has moved one step closer to becoming a walkable community.
Although the development team for the property at 3636 N. Western Ave. approached the office of Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) with options that included an auto service center and various traditional fast-food options, the alderman held out for a more pedestrian-friendly solution.
"We really wanted neighborhood retail so people could walk around," said Pawar.
As the longest continuous street in the city, Western Avenue is typically thought of as a way to get from Point A to Point B, not a destination in and of itself.
"We want to reinvent Western Avenue" by creating more opportunities for people to shop and dine, said the alderman.
Though Pawar conceded that a number of people would likely avail themselves of Starbucks' planned drive-through feature, he thinks plenty of other residents will linger over their cup of java.
"A lot of people who live west of Western, they now have a neighborhood coffee shop," he said.
No construction timetable has yet been set for the project.
"I just signed off on the zoning," said Pawar, who added that City Council was the next stop for the proposal.