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New 'Downtown' Logan Square Brewery Makes Its Pitch to Neighbors

By Darryl Holliday | September 12, 2014 10:41am | Updated on September 14, 2014 6:50pm
 The former Goldblatt's building in Logan Square will soon include several new retail outlets in a push to revitalize the triangle corner of Milwaukee, Diversey and Kimball avenues, according to the building’s property managers.
Goldblatt's Building
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LOGAN SQUARE — Hopewell Brewing Company, which wants to open near Logan Square's busy Milwaukee and Kimball intersection, made its pitch to Logan Square residents Thursday night, promising a 10 p.m. closing time for its planned brewpub.

Residents rattled off concerns for the soon-to-be-overhauled area, including parking, the consequences of changing zoning to allow for multi-use buildings and, as one resident said, “concerns about Milwaukee becoming the next pub crawl” as restaurants, bars and breweries flock to Logan Square.

Hopewell hopes to open on the 2700 Block of North Milwaukee in the coming months but permission for a necessary zoning change at 2760-2778 N. Milwaukee Ave. will require community support to proceed smoothly.

Jonathan Fritz, one of three partners at the brewpub, made his case Thursday at a meeting in the building where Hopewell wants to build.

The brewery will focus its efforts on making lagers and the operation of a tasting room, said Fritz, a Logan Square resident of four years. The brewpub would close by 10 p.m. and would not serve food, he said.

"It’s somewhere people can go to experience the brand and talk to the brewers," he said.

“We want people to be there during the day,” he added, allaying fears that Hopewell would bring a raucous late-night crowd to the growing area.

The brewery currently employs its three partners but plans to hire 20 more people over the first five years of its development, Fritz said. The brewery plans to use Midwestern grains in its beer and sell locally, in addition to selling 20-30 percent of its stock at the proposed Milwaukee Avenue production factory.

Many of the 25 residents at Thursday's meeting commended developer Mike Fox for his award-winning renovation of the Gap Building and other attached lots at the intersection, but doubts about the next phase of that development — the introduction of new retail businesses — were clear.

Fox said the renovated residential building "called to me." He told residents he'll be accountable for the $20-per-square foot retail shops and the apartments above that will rent for $1,300 to $2,300.

Members of the Logan Square Neighborhood Association proposed that Fox set aside affordable retail and residential options for the set of renovated buildings in exchange for community support on Hopewell Brewery’s zoning change request. Fox agreed to future meetings to find common ground.

“This block is in dramatic transition right now,” said John McDermott, the association’s housing and land use director. “And this isn’t any block, this is the downtown district for Logan Square. If this block comes back with very few businesses that work for families, that’s really going to be a civic failure for the neighborhood.”

At least five small businesses had to leave the block before renovation began and, according to association members, rent and property values continue to rise.

But according to another longtime Logan Square resident, Jose Rivas, 32, the renovation and cleanup is giving new life to a once vibrant intersection that fell on hard times.

There was a time when he couldn’t walk the streets safely, he said. Now, he said he welcomes development that appears to be bringing responsible business to the area.

Ald. Rey Colon (35th) said he supports Hopewell Brewery and its zoning change request, though he plans to take steps to prevent uncontrolled development at the site in the future.

The zoning change request will go before the city Committee on Zoning at its next meeting, where it is expected to pass.

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