Binny's has agreed to lease the first floor of the former Bank of America building at 4901 W. Irving Park Road that has been vacant since 2011. A measure introduced by Arena to the Chicago City Council last week would lift the moratorium on alcohol sales in a two-block stretch near Irving Park Road and Lamon Avenue and allow the big-box store to open.
Binny's plan to transform the former bank building into a liquor and beer superstore requires special permission from city officials to open, in addition to a liquor license. A community meeting to discuss that issue will be scheduled in the coming weeks, the alderman said.
Last year, Arena authored an ordinance that banned new liquor stores from opening up in much of the 45th Ward in an effort to give residents of Jefferson Park, Portage Park, Gladstone Park and Old Irving Park a tool to block unwanted liquor stores and convenience stores from popping up near their homes.
In addition to Binny's, Wisconsin-based Culver's — known for its "butter burgers" and frozen custard — has signed a letter of intent to open a restaurant with a drive-through window just west of the former bank building where a tire shop used to operate, according to Culver's spokesman Paul Pitas.
Grocery chain Aldi had considered opening a new store at the location, but is no longer interested, Arena said.
While supporting five new liquor licenses in the 45th Ward — including one to allow Binny's to open — Arena said he had filed an ordinance to prevent bars in the 45th Ward from staying open past 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. under what is known as a late-night license.
Owen Brugh, Arena's chief of staff, said no applications for a late-night license had been filed in the 45th Ward, but the measure is designed to be preventative.
"With the type of community we have, this type of use just isn't appropriate,' Brugh said, noting that such licenses are not easy to obtain. City officials require 50 percent of registered voters within 500 feet of the bar to sign a petition in support of the license.
The only bar with a late-night license in the 45th Ward is Zachary's for Cocktails at 5368 N. Milwaukee Ave.
In addition to Binny's, Arena approved two requests from the 7-Eleven Corp. to transfer two liquor licenses from the corporate offices to two franchisees that plan to operate the store at Milwaukee and Foster avenues and the store adjacent to the Jefferson Park Transit Center near Milwaukee and Higgins avenues.
The store near the transit center lost its license for a period of time in 2014 after police complained the store — under a previous operator — attracted crime and encouraged public drinking near the busy transit center.
Both stores have agreed not to sell half-pints of liquor, single-serving containers of beer, wine and malt liquor as well as liquor for sale for less than $6.99 and to limit their hours of operation, Arena said.
The same restrictions will be in place at the liquor store at Milwaukee and Warner avenues, where Arena said he had agreed to allow a new owner to open a convenience store and sell liquor in the former Savoy Liquor space.
In addition, Arena said he supported the request from Sandy's Bakery and Deli at Lawrence and Marmora avenues to sell Serbian alcohol in a small section of the store.
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