LOGAN SQUARE — A plan to convert an 101-year-old building on California Avenue into Pipeworks Brewing's first brewpub drew mixed reviews at a well-attended community meeting Monday night.
Some neighbors argue Logan Square, which has become increasingly bar-focused, doesn't need another bar/restaurant, while others say a brewpub is welcome and preferable to a large residential project, which has been proposed for the site in the past.
Gerrit Lewis, co-owner of Pipeworks, pitched nearly 100 neighbors at Seventh Day Adventist Church, 2840 W. Logan Blvd.
Gerrit Lewis addresses neighbors at the community meeting. [DNAinfo Chicago/Mina Bloom]
Lewis and his business partner, Beejay Oslon, are looking to renovate the castlelike building at 2614-20 N. California Ave., and open a brewpub inside. The building is being used by local bands as a rehearsal space.
The duo is seeking a zoning change, not to tear down the building or build an addition of any kind, but to open a restaurant/bar in a building now zoned for residential use — with no parking requirement.
"We're not looking to tear down the building. The exterior facade will be mostly the same. We'll make some updates to it. We're not doing any type of rooftop deck or exterior patio," Lewis told neighbors.
Under the desired liquor license, only beer brewed on the premises would be allowed to be served. No wine or liquor would be permitted.
The plan is to keep the production facility at 3912 W. McLean Ave. open and brew at the brewpub only two or three times a week, Lewis said. That would minimize the odor, waste and number of deliveries at the brewpub, Lewis said.
Lewis wasn't ready to divulge much about the food menu, saying only that they've tapped a chef who specializes in "comfort food."
If approved, the brewpub would stay open until 11 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and until midnight Fridays and Saturdays, which Lewis and his team called "conservative."
The concessions weren't enough for some neighbors, who expressed concerns over everything from revelers to parking.
"We get drunk people yelling and screaming down [Logan] Boulevard at all hours," one woman said during public comment. "I'm concerned about more drunk people filtering up and down the boulevard and keeping us awake all night."
"11 o' clock: That's early for a bar, but it's late for families," the woman added.
To which Lewis replied, "It's more of a restaurant-oriented thing, where you sit down, have a meal, have a drink and then you go home. Or if you want to continue drinking, you go to an establishment with later hours."
Addressing numerous parking concerns, Lewis said he doesn't expect all patrons to drive. Some will take public transportation or Uber, he said. He also wants to rent spaces from nearby Brentano Math and Science Academy for employee parking.
Developers have proposed residential projects for the building, but they never got past Logan Square Preservation, which ultimately rejected them for a number of reasons.
The neighborhood group, which put together the Pipeworks meeting, said it will use the community feedback gathered Monday night to make a recommendation to 32nd Ward Ald. Scott Waguespack, who has final say on the matter.
Some folks like Carrie Cochran, who has lived in the neighborhood since 1984, were generally opposed to the idea of another beer-focused establishment landing in Logan Square.
"If you plant the same crop over and over and over again, you ruin the soil. That's what we're doing in Logan Square," Cochran said after the meeting, referring to the growing number of bars in the neighborhood.
Logan Square "is becoming Wrigleyville," she said.
"It's just one kind of business over and over and over again. Where are the small shops? Where are the artisan shops that Logan Square should be fostering?" she asked.
Others called it an "excellent reuse" project.
"I've seen [that building] being underutilized forever, and I feel that if a company like Pipeworks, which is well-established, [came in] ... it's something I would be for," longtime resident Enrico Hufana said after the meeting.
It's unclear where Waguespack stands on the zoning change. The alderman did not attend the meeting, and his chief of staff, Paul Sajovec, didn't offer an opinion.
A rendering of Pipeworks' exterior [Courtesy/Pipeworks Brewing]