House Music Venue Wants To Open In The West Loop, But Residents Say Not On Their ‘Quiet’ Block


WEST LOOP – A music venue that will host community programs during the day and operate as a nightclub at night wants to open in the West Loop, but got off to a rough start this week after neighbors said they felt blindsided by the project.

Business partners Danny Graham, executive director of New World Presents, an event production company, and James Russell, of REVIVEcollective, a collective of Chicago artists, wants to open Habitat Chicago in an empty shop at 1025 W. Jackson Blvd.

The venue would aim to be a “safe and accessible nightlife experience” for women, people of color and members of the LGBTQ community, while also serving as a community space with daytime wellness programs, Graham and Russell said.

But several West Loop residents said they had no idea of ​​a community meeting to learn about the proposal for the first time. On Tuesday, neighbors circulated photos in a Facebook group showing a notice for a community meeting to review the company’s application for a late-night liquor license taped to the facade of an apartment building.

Sigcho-Lopez, whose ward includes the property, said Tuesday that his office recommended a November meeting date, but it was never confirmed.

“We received an email last night saying we would like to move forward with the meeting,” Sigcho-Lopez said. “Forty-eight hours weren’t even allowed in our office.”

The business owners still held the meeting Tuesday night, but they will have to host another community meeting in January, Sigcho-Lopez said. Rubén Franco, director of legislative affairs of Sigcho-Lopez, attended the meeting instead of the commissioner.

Residents were concerned that the notice did not meet the city’s 48-hour notice requirement for public gatherings.

The owners are looking for a nightly liquor license and a public places of entertainment licence, and need Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th) to support an ordinance lifting a liquor moratorium on the blockade.

Credit: Facebook
A community meeting notice posted outside a West Loop apartment building.

Twelve residents attended the meeting. Graham and Russell apologized for the late notice.

“We don’t want you to feel like this was the only time to talk,” Graham said.

Habitat Chicago would be a “one-of-a-kind” house and techno performing arts center in the empty 9,000-square-foot storefront, business partners said.

Credit: Melody Mercado/Block Club Chicago
Residents gather at a community gathering on December 6, 2022 to see a presentation on a proposed house music venue in the West Loop.

During the day, the center will host programs like sound meditation, yoga classes, art and art exhibits, and music therapy, like a “true community center,” Russell said.

At night, downtown transformed into a late-night nightclub hosting DJ sets with a security guard for every 50 guests, according to the group’s presentation. The venue is zoned to hold up to 999 people, but the group plans to limit occupancy to 500, they said.

Four security guards would be at the front of the building and more would be used as “consent staff” wearing “high-visibility jackets” inside the venue so guests could report inappropriate behavior, such as sexual harassment, they said. said.

Graham, who previously ran a similar club in Salt Lake Cityhe said his headquarters were known to be a “safe environment” and a good neighbor for the businesses around them.

“My business partner and I would come after every event, picking up cigarette butts outside our building. … We take these things very seriously,” Graham said.

But residents have wondered why the owners want the club on their quieter stretch of the West Loop, about a half-mile south of Fulton Market, a bustling entertainment hub. They doubted owners could limit late-night loitering on the streets or the violence they fear the clubs could attract

The property is zoned for a “medium-sized place,” something that Russell and Graham say took over a year to find. Many of the warehouses in the Fulton market are zoned for industrial use and would require a zoning change, which could take six months, the owners said.

The group also met with several aldermen and said Sigcho-Lopez seemed the most receptive, which led them to pursue the Jackson Boulevard position.

Russell said the city “really deserves a space like this, and I don’t think you have any other venues that showcase the kind of work we intend to bring to this community.”

Credit: Melody Mercado/Block Club Chicago
Rubén Franco, director of legislative affairs for the 25th district, explains the permitting process to residents during a community meeting on December 6, 2022.

The group has yet to finalize a lease on the store, Russell and Graham said.

Residents also said they are concerned the headquarters will be in the newly formed 34th Ward in May and have an entirely new alderman. Some said landlords should wait until their city council representative is elected to move forward.

If the project is considered by the new alderman instead of Sigcho-Lopez, it would be subject to the new alderman’s community review process, or lack thereof, Franco said.

The next community meeting will take place the week of January 9th. Details are still being worked out.

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Written by Natalia Chi

Chicago Popular; Chicago breaking news, weather and live video. Covering local politics, health, traffic and sports for Chicago, the suburbs and northwest Indiana.

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