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Forbidden Root Brewery Wins Over Influential Neighborhood Group

By Darryl Holliday | March 4, 2014 2:19pm
 Two hurdles face the botanical brewery and both could end up before City Council for resolution.
Residents Gather On All Sides Around Forbidden Root
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UKRAINIAN VILLAGE — Botanical brewery Forbidden Root appeared to clear yet another hurdle Monday night as owners brought their case before the influential East Village Association in what the meeting agenda called a "compromise presentation."

While plans for the construction of Forbidden Root at 1746 W. Chicago Ave. remain in limbo due to two complications, a liquor moratorium preventing bars on the strip and a zoning restriction preventing manufacturing at their chosen West Town location — both of which require City Council intervention — gaining approval from the neighborhood group could prove just as essential.

"When [Forbidden Root] first came to me I shot them down. I think that's the best way to put it," said group president Neal McKnight, adding that the East Village Association has been constantly debating various liquor issues over the years.

"It got to a point where we were saying, 'we're tired of this.'"

But McKnight said meeting the proposed brewery's owners changed his mind.

"We're in the process right now of thinking creatively about this business. It's not the type of business we want to keep out ... it's just that we're in a tight spot."

Not much has changed since Forbidden Root's successful community meeting in January, when 300 residents and business owners showed up to support the brewery's proposed location. Ald. Joe Moreno (1st) wants to lift the liquor moratorium at the location and his proposal is currently under review by the city, according to Rolando Acosta, Forbidden Root's lawyer.

Even if the liquor moratorium is lifted, brewer BJ Pichman said the zoning hurdle will be even more difficult, since construction can't begin until the commercial manufacturing issue is resolved.

According to Acosta, Forbidden Root hopes to resolve the issue by April so that the unique brewery can open in September.

"So, I have 30 days or what's left of it to solve this problem," he said.