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Portage Park Starbucks Plan Moving Forward, Alderman Says

By Alex Nitkin | February 3, 2017 6:32am
 The retail space and coffee shop would be built on a vacant lot at the corner of Irving Park Road and Central Avenue.
The retail space and coffee shop would be built on a vacant lot at the corner of Irving Park Road and Central Avenue.
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DNAinfo/Alex Nitkin

PORTAGE PARK — A special-use permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals is the only remaining obstacle to groundbreaking on a coffee shop — likely a Starbucks — and attached retail at the corner of Irving Park Road and Central Avenue, Ald. Nicholas Sposato (38th) told DNAinfo.

The current plan calls for 65,000 square feet of retail space next to the coffee shop, Sposato said. The developer, Sumac Inc., will need a special use permit in order to build a Starbucks drive-thru.

Sposato has all but promised to approve a zoning change allowing the developer to build on the vacant lot, which he called a "10-year eyesore" he's eager to see redeveloped.

"If we can get some retail, that could be a little bit of an economic boom over there," Sposato said. "We could build up some of these vacant storefronts and get more people to move in."

If Starbucks does move to the property, the cafe would operate less than a block from Portage Grounds, an independent coffee shop that opened in 2013, and less than a mile from Perkolator Cafe, which opened in 2014.

The owners of both coffee shops expressed reservations about the proposal when it first landed in June; Portage Grounds owner Robert Quezada said it could "absolutely" put him out of business.

The proposal will likely go before the zoning board in April, Sposato said.

Sumac Inc. did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Meanwhile, the project isn't the only potential Starbucks brewing in Portage Park. Over in the Six Corners Shopping District, another developer is planning an outpost for the Seattle-based chain in the satellite parking lot of the now-closed Family Fruit Market, 4118 N. Cicero Ave.

Ald. John Arena (45th) is reviewing that proposal and will decide whether to grant the zoning change that would allow it to move forward, according to his chief of staff, Owen Brugh.

Representatives of Starbucks did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.