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Solis Backtracks on Zoning Change to Prevent Bar on Madison St.

By Chloe Riley | October 31, 2013 6:40am
 Residents from the Block X Condo Association hash it out with Chicago Tap House owner Daniel Deutscher who wants to bring in a restaurant next door to the Madison Street condos.
Residents from the Block X Condo Association hash it out with Chicago Tap House owner Daniel Deutscher who wants to bring in a restaurant next door to the Madison Street condos.
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DNAinfo/Chloe Riley

WEST LOOP — Ald. Danny Solis (25th) has withdrawn his proposal to rezone a commercial building on Madison Street where neighbors have opposed a plan to open a bar.

On Oct. 10, Solis moved to change the zoning of 1140 W. Madison St. in order to stop a liquor license from being awarded at the space.

But Solis spokeswoman Stacy Raker said the alderman pulled the request off the city's Zoning Committee agenda last week after he consulted with the building's owner, Steve Greenberg.

"As with most zoning changes, this is a land-use planning measure that the alderman can utilize to ensure that the building fits into the character of the neighborhood," Raker wrote in an email. "That being said, the alderman has since deferred the proposed zoning change as discussions continue with the building owner about uses for that location."

The businessman seeking the liquor license, Daniel Deutscher, has been the focus of much neighborhood controversy since meeting with neighbors in March to discuss his bar concept, the Chicago Tap House

The most vocal opposition has come from some residents of the Block X condos bordering the property, who object to the noise and other potential problems a bar could bring.

Deutscher said he's shifted the Tap House proposal to be more of a restaurant and has brought on former Sunda chef Rodelio Aglibot as a consultant for the kitchen. He has told the West Loop Community Organization his menu will be influenced by "my great grandfather chef Viktor Deutscher’s menu at Henrici’s on Randolph Restaurant [from the] 1920s-1954."

He also pointed to a recent study by the community organization that found 54 percent of West Loop residents wanted more restaurants in the area.

"We're doing everything we possibly can to be a part of the community and really represent what the West Loop is," Deutscher said.

But another businessman also is seeking the spot. Block X resident Moshe Tamssot proposed putting a “Maker’s Space,” a kind of tech start-up, in the building.

Tamssot was upset when he discovered the plan to change the zoning had made it to the zoning committee's agenda, he said. Not only was his proposal for a commercial use, he thought not enough residents had been informed about the move to make the building residential,  and he thought that those opposing the bar were having too much influence on the process.

“It isn’t the entire community that’s speaking,” Tamssot said. “There are multiple voices here that need to be heard.”

In an Oct. 26 email to condo association members, Block X President Matt Letourneau — who opposes the bar — writes that the alderman’s office specifically told him not to alert folks to the proposed zoning change.

“The alderman's office told me about the zoning change and asked me not to publicize it while they worked with [building owner] Steve behind the scenes," Letourneau wrote.

When asked about the email, Letourneau said he meant that the alderman's office told him not to worry about communicating the zoning change, as proper notice would be sent via mailings and a post on the Madison Street property.

But now that Greenberg has since pledged not to sign a lease without consulting the alderman, "in this way, we have, with the alderman's help, put ourselves between anyone seeking a liquor license at 1140 W. Madison,” the email says. 

Greenberg could not be reached for comment.

Tamssot said he believes the entire process is flawed and the proposed zoning change is “a strong-arm tactic that the alderman can use to force his way."

On Wednesday Letourneau said Deutscher's changes to his bar proposal had been minimal and stressed that he had not seen a formal proposal for the new restaurant concept.

"I think it was pretty much the same thing he had back in the spring. It’s really hard to go along with it when all we see is a bar," he said.

Raker said that proper notice of the proposed zoning change was given.

"Any property owners within 250 feet of the building should have received notice in the mail regarding the proposed zoning change," her email stated.