Wednesday, May 16, 2007

No Liquor at Aldi...For Now

A decision to lift a moratorium on the issuance of new liquor licenses in the new Wilson Yard TIF development has been put on hold by Alderman Helen Shiller, 46th.
Last month, Shiller petitioned the Committee on License and Consumer Protection to lift the moratorium on the west side of Broadway between Leland and Montrose Avenues that will enable Aldi's to sell wine and beer when the Wilson Yard store opens in June.
"We don't anticipate opening with liquor," said Chris Stair, director of Real Estate for Aldi Group's Batavia, Ill., division, that oversees stores in the Chicago region.
"(The Wilson Yard Aldi's) will only sell a combination of domestic and imported beers and wine," Stair added.
The discount supermarket chain has retained an attorney to help in securing a liquor license for the Wilson Yard Aldi's, that will replace its existing Uptown store at 4450 N. Broadway.
The decision to lift the moratorium came as a surprise to some block clubs and community organizations. Residents who live near Wilson Yard have complained of debris and crime resulting from public drinking in the area.
"If you walk down Montrose between Broadway and Clifton, it's just full of bottles and cans. It's a mess," said Pat Reuter, of the Graceland Wilson Neighbors Association block club adjacent to Wilson Yard.
"There are packaged liquor stores (all) around (Wilson Yard). Why do they have to put another one there," Reuter added.
Several years ago the Uptown Chicago Commission visited 28 Uptown liquor establishments and asked businesses to voluntarily stop selling individual cans and bottles of beer and malt liquor, as well as half-pints of hard liquor, maintaining that it contributed to public intoxication.
"We haven't publicly taken a stand," said Kathy Cook, president of the Uptown Chicago Commission, a community group focused on public safety, development and land use for the Uptown neighborhood.
"That particular site has a lot of public drinking and all the other problems that evolve from that. Aldi's in the past hasn't been helpful in terms of call 911 or getting problem people off their property. They're not watchdogging their property," Cook said.
Yvonne Odell, a staff assistant to Shiller, said the proposal to lift the moratorium was deferred because of a change in personnel at Aldi's corporate office. Stair recently assumed responsibility for Aldi's real estate interests a few weeks ago.
"We want to make sure we have a working relationship with (Stair) and see if he's on the same page," Odell said.
"One of the issues on the table is making the new Aldi's more attentive to patrolling its lot," Odell added.
Odell could also not confirm if a community meeting would be held in the future to gather residents' input into lifting the liquor license moratorium in the Wilson Yard area.
The Wilson Yard Aldi's, one of the anchor stores in the Wilson Yard development, is tentatively scheduled to open on June 4, pending final city inspections. Other Aldi store throughout the city carry both wine and beer.


  1. Unfortunately, because Aldi has no windows or entrance fronting N. Broadway, it will be much more difficult to observe the premises for public drinking along N. Broadway. Given the high rate of public drinking already in that area, someone has some explaining to do.

    It remains unfortunate that until word about this "leaked" out to the community, nothing previously had been said to the area block club, UCC, UNC, in a ward e-mail, on the ward's website, at a community meeting, at the local CAPS beat meeting, at the Wilson Yard Task Force, or at the Ward's Zoning Committee.

    Once again, there is very poor communication.

  2. We must concur James. The graffiti on the wall is still visible after the "removal." From the El tracks, even more vandalism is visible. We fear it is telling of whats to come for this poorly planned building. More graffiti and more public drinking in front of the wall. We can only hope Aldi will be diligent in enforcing security around the building.