EDGEWATER — Plans to transform a long-vacant, semi-remodeled former auto shop on Ridge Avenue into a weekend event venue have been scrapped amid residents' concern that the business would attract too much traffic, noise and parking hassle to the neighborhood.
Business owner Alexis Leverenz had hoped to gain Ald. Harry Osterman's (48th) support in acquiring a Public Place of Amusement license for the building at 5757 N. Ridge Ave., which would allow it to be used for events like wedding receptions on weekends.
Her plan involved a partnership with nearby Peirce Elementary School, which would allow up to 60 of its parking spaces to be used by guests of the events.
Osterman held a community meeting with Leverenz in August, and in September a sound test was held at the building to give residents an idea of how loud music would be.
Still, many neighbors felt an influx of traffic, noise and parking issues would be inevitable if the building was granted the amusement license, according to Osterman. Some neighbors even put fliers onto the windshields of cars parked near the proposed reception hall, warning of its potential consequences and urged others to share opposition to the project with Osterman's office.
Based on the feedback his office received, the alderman said he would not support the event hall opening in the building.
"Neighbors have expressed real concerns about a lack of nearby parking, traffic congestion issues, and disruptions due to event guests leaving the venue late at night," he told residents.
But the plan might not entirely be dead: Osterman said he has offered to show Leverenz other properties in the neighborhood that may be better suited for her idea.
He said he will also keep working with the building's owner to help find a tenant.
For many years, the decorated but deteriorating building was incorrectly rumored to have been a former movie house built by silent film star Charlie Chaplain. But it was actually built as an auto showroom in 1922, according to the Edgewater Historical Society.