Sunday, October 16, 2011
Post Tornado BLO News (Broadway Liquor Outlet)
Photo and blog post by Nomi Passenger
The photo displayed above was taken the day after the infamous Nomi Tornado. Broadway Liquor Outlet, at the corner of Penn and Broadway, was in the direct path of the twister and, well, you might say took a hard BLO (ha, punny, but not funny).
The much loved northside business has been closed for business since that nasty Sunday in May. Owner Dean Rose recently attended a neighborhood meeting and I got the BLO-down on what he is hoping and planning for the future...
Good thing, since this is probably the most asked about post-tornado discussion topic amongst my friends and I. Yes, the liquor store is one of the things we miss the most! Really, it's so much more than just "a liquor store." With a great wine section, spirits, cold beer, hard ciders, seasonal wine tastings and a beautifully remodeled vintage interior, BLO was a staple business in many of our day-to-day lives.
The BLO building is 105 years old. It suffered irreparable damage from the tornado and eight structural experts have recommended that it be torn down as the structure has shifted. Black mold has taken over, requiring anyone who enters the building for longer than five minutes to wear a respirator. It is a multi-level building with layers and layers of original structure underneath renovations underneath more renovations underneath.... you get the picture. Even if the cost to repair and rebuild were overcome now, the structural experts are predicting the building would have more problems of an unknown magnitude later down the line that would not be covered by this insurance claim. For that reason, owner Dean Rose is likely going to tear down the building and seek out a new home for BLO.
So what is he thinking for a new home? The Rose family also owns the property across the street on the northwest corner of Penn and Broadway. It is 2220 West Broadway and we all know it as "the former Burger King", "the first Bean Scene" and now "the old Fire 'n Ice" building. (By the way, Fire 'n Ice was also killed by the tornado and has been reincarnated as Pizza Town located at WBro and James Ave in "the old Slice of Chicago" building) Any urban planner would agree that piece of land is highly under utilized. It's mostly a parking lot with a stupid little fast food joint plopped down in the back. Dean hopes to demolish that fast food building and construct a new building, likely multi-level, likely mixed use and definitely positioned up against the sidewalks of those two highly traveled Nomi streets (Penn and WBro). I say definitely because the West Broadway Alive plan as well as a pedestrian overlay district at that intersection require new construction to be positioned that way, with parking in the rear, or elsewhere. But NOT between the street and the structure.
Dean says several developers are currently "developing" ideas and proposals to partner with the Rose family on what lies ahead. He says it will likely be a two year process to develop and build a new multi-use building, so hang in there folks.
In the mean time, Dean is investigating the idea of a temporary location for BLO in the near vicinity. He is checking out the possibility that the Broadway Rental building might be a possible site for the interim. He says his loyal, longtime employees (who hail from right here in Nomi) have families to feed and he wants to get the business open as quickly as possible. He said he'd do a basic manila shell set up in the temporary home, and likely fixtures and equipment could be purchased now and then moved to the permanent home when it's ready.
The first step in setting this BLO-ball in motion is to get the City's approval to move the liquor license across the street. This is what brought Dean to the neighborhood meeting, to ask for support. On Thursday October 13 there was a hearing of the regulatory services committee and a vote was taken. If anyone knows how to access the results of that hearing, feel free to post them here in the comment section. I predicted there wouldn't be much opposition, since it isn't a new liquor license entering the scene, but rather just moving it near by. Dean said there was precedent of liquor licenses being moved before, about 3 times in the past.
Dean also said that this is a good opportunity to get the 2220 property "cleaned up". Apparently it was an Amoco station at some time in it's past, and the brownfield status needs to be re mediated and brought up to environmental standards, and this is the time to get that done.
So there's the BLO by BLO of BLO. In the meantime, be careful in the Merwin's parking lot. They've got a great wine section, if you can get to it (slight exaggeration font).
(The other day I went into Merwin's and there was literally a glob of crap on the floor. In two different places. *Shudder* THAT is not an exaggeration)