New Chicago music venue at former Morton Salt site clears key hurdle

Kimberly R. Cammack


Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s strategy to produce an “outdoor entertainment venue liquor license” in time for live new music this summer season at the Morton Salt Get rid of cleared a important hurdle Wednesday, amid problem that it would pave the way for additional of the same at Lincoln Yards and the River West web site of a Chicago on line casino.

The Town Council’s License Committee superior the mayor’s plan 13-2, above physically demanding objections from neighboring Ald. Michele Smith (43rd), downtown Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd), and Good friends of the Chicago River.

Smith’s movement to postpone the vote for at minimum a thirty day period to perform out the kinks failed by a closer vote, 8 to 5.

Smith is the mayoral ally who chairs the City Council’s Committee on Ethics and Federal government Oversight.

Throughout a amazingly prolonged debate on an outside music venue job several years in the building, Smith argued the planned progress of the Morton Salt facility, 1357 N. Elston Ave., by no means contemplated an out of doors tunes location, let by itself an arena with 3,000 seats found just 125 feet from household structures.

Of even greater concern to Smith is that the mayor’s ordinance would open up the doorway to in the same way substantial out of doors riverfront tunes venues at two nearby websites: the proposed Bally’s casino at Chicago Avenue and Halsted Avenue in River West, and the substantial blended-use improvement known as Lincoln Yards.

“This is a extraordinary U-change. Even if this is a great undertaking — I suggest, it is a attractive challenge. But this ordinance enables huge-scale venues in techniques that will drastically impression the entire region. We are now trumpeting the Chicago River as a new enjoyment corridor,” Smith reported.

Smith branded the ordinance a “new change against” Chicago’s program to “spread amusement into the neighborhoods.” She observed the town has created “substantial investments” in the Uptown Theater, the Congress Theater and “many venues” on the South Aspect.

“I am really involved that this will bring a degree of, as soon as once more, downtown-centered, white-people today-oriented sorts of entertainment that will truly damage smaller sized venues and other substantial venues that intend to compete,” she said.

Prior to the ultimate vote, Smith study straight from a letter from Close friends of the Chicago River strongly opposing the Morton Salt new music location and the prospective for a similar live performance room at a Bally’s Chicago on line casino.

These guidelines are “incompatible” with the city’s possess river structure tips, which referred to as for a “connected greenway along the river that overlooks public parks and natural habitats” therefore providing a “peaceful, all-natural distinction to the city surroundings,” the letter states.

Reilly centered on the doorway that has now been flung large open up for even extra out of doors music venues shut to residential structures.

“If it only applied to Morton Salt, I wouldn’t have an difficulty with it. But, as Ald. Smith pointed out, this keeps the door open for lots of other open up-air venues, possibly together the river and surely, the Chicago on line casino site would also match the criteria,” Reilly claimed.

“I’m also concerned about that 125 toes [buffer from nearby residences]. When you search at the proposed casino location, conveniently that leaves out about 7,000 people of River North from that observe area. That is of considerable worry to me.”

Reilly cited his notorious struggles with what he referred to as “bad liquor license owners” downtown.

“Say we have a location that opens. They’ve invested these thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars in it. And they develop into a chronic source of nuisance problems. Picture family members with youthful young children, infants. … And several evenings a 7 days, their windows are shaking mainly because, however for them, they have speakers facing throughout a river at them,” Reilly claimed.

“Say we get 100 issues a thirty day period. What remedy would exist? The location — regardless of whether at the on line casino web-site or a different portion of the river — would argue, ‘We’ve invested all this income. You’re not shutting us down. We’re gonna battle you in court docket.’”

Noting that he struggled with abuses at Bottled Blonde for decades ahead of shutting that bar down, Reilly claimed: “This is a venue on steroids.”

Area Liquor Regulate Commissioner Shannon Trotter stated the new venue will have a liquor license as perfectly as a public put of amusement license.

“All of these are issue to all of the standard disciplinary or public nuisance procedures that we have,” Trotter explained.

“But we’re actually trying to layout the ordinance so that any outside music does not generate a nuisance. That’s why you see … all unique gatherings and/or concert events at any concert location or athletics stadium — they all end at 10 [p.m.]. Amplified seem throughout the city ends at 10. And this ordinance is regular with that. It’s also dependable with patio several hours.”

Ald. Walter Burnett (27th), whose ward contains each the Morton Salt and Bally’s casino sites, took umbrage at the assert that the prepared development by no means contemplated an out of doors audio location.

“What we’re carrying out more than in this article is no key. This stuff essentially begun under the past administration,” Burnett mentioned.

“We altered the PMD [planned manufacturing district] to enable for all of these items to take place and everyone was on board. Now we’re at the ninth hour and it’s like a massive offer.”


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