WICKER PARK/BUCKTOWN — Shuffleboard, anyone?
Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club, a Brooklyn-based company that focuses on the old-fashioned leisure sport, is eyeing an industrial warehouse at 1760 N. Milwaukee Ave. along the Wicker Park and Bucktown border for its second location and first Midwest outpost.
If everything goes as planned, Royal Palms, which would feature 10 regulation-sized shuffleboard courts, tropical cocktails, breezy music and food trucks, could be up and running by next summer, according to co-owner Ashley Albert.
On Tuesday, members of the Wicker Park Committee voted to support a rezoning request that would enable Royal Palms' owners Albert and business partner Jonathan Schnapp to operate the entertainment complex in a warehouse at 1760 N. Milwaukee Ave., according to Ed Tamminga, chairman of the Wicker Park Committee's Preservation and Development subcommittee.
The group "felt that the shuffleboard operation would bring some pedestrian vitality to a currently vacant stretch of Milwaukee," Tamminga said.
Formerly home to Metro Chicago Florist Delivery Co-Op, a parking garage for flower delivery trucks, the 100-year-old building — just south of The 606's Milwaukee Avenue and Leavitt Street park — was bought for $3.35 million by West Loop developer R2 Companies in late July, according to Matt Garrison, a principal with the firm.
Albert said that she and Schnapp knew from the moment they walked into the warehouse that it was exactly what they were looking for, citing "majestic bow-truss ceilings" and the fact it reminds them of the vintage warehouse that houses the Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club in Brooklyn, New York.
Both internationally ranked shuffleboard players, Albert and Schnapp opened Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club in 2014. The venture is "breathing new life into the sport by drawing on Brooklyn’s hip, younger crowd," according to Small Business Revolution.
In shuffleboard, players use cues to push weighted discs down a narrow and long court. The goal is to get the weighted discs to rest within a marked scoring area. The game is played locally by Chicago senior citizens, who compete at Welles Park.
The block has other draws, such as Small Cheval, a burger joint ay 1732 N. Milwaukee Ave. and the Bucktown-Wicker Park library at 1701 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Since the building is zoned for manufacturing, Garrison said a zoning change would be needed to do anything other than manufacturing in the space. Royal Palms plans to rent the building contingent upon a zoning change, he said.
According to design renderings shared at Tuesday's meeting, Royal Palms would have a rooftop deck and a bike parking lot.
Albert said that there would be a small outdoor space on a corner of the roof "to give Chicagoans a chance to experience the game the way it was meant to be played...in the sunshine."
The decision to keep the low-density, one-story building intact was intentional, Garrison said.
"Conventional wisdom is to go for a super dense vertical apartment project on this site, but we want to save the old bow truss building and bring in a great retail amenity for the neighborhood and 606. We think we found a special concept and operator that is going to help activate the area in an engaging and unique way," Garrison said.
Still in the proposal stage, "some additional operating agreements between the operators and the Alderman’s office is still required" and the City Council zoning committee would need to approve the zoning change, Tamminga said.
On Wednesday, Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) said that he is supportive of approving the zoning change to pave the way for the shuffleboard club.
Proposed floor plan for Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club. [Provided]
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