Vacant East Chicago storefront eyed for restaurant

2013-06-26T18:29:00Z 2013-06-26T22:51:04Z Vacant East Chicago storefront eyed for restaurantPaul Czapkowicz Times Correspondent
June 26, 2013 6:29 pm  • 

EAST CHICAGO | The East Chicago City Council has approved allowing vacant property at 502 W. 151st St. to be used as a restaurant.

Third District Councilman Robert Battle is seeking to lease the property to open a restaurant he said will serve a variety of food.

Battle said the building has stood vacant for about 10 years and needed to go through the rezoning process.

"Any time any building is vacant for a year, it automatically goes back to residential," he said.

City Planner Richard Morrisroe said the property had housed a business previously.

"It was for many years the Cotton Lounge, and had served not only as a restaurant, but as a bar," he said.

The council's decision to grant the petition for use variance goes against the recommendation of the city's Board of Zoning Appeals, which voted 3-1 against approval.

The council voted 6-0 in favor of the petition, with Battle abstaining from the vote. At-large Councilwomen Benita White Arnold and Myrna Maldonado were not present.

Morrisroe said the BZA had concerns over the ownership of the property, which he said has a tax lien on it that is being negotiated.

Council Attorney Steve Bower said ownership of the building will have to be established before a business license is issued.

"Secondly, they're going to have to rehab the building to bring it up to standards," Bower said.

Battle said the BZA was also concerned about the condition of the outside of the building.

"We just want to see the building up and utilized, that's the main thing," he said. "Because it's just sitting there. It's become an eyesore."

Battle said opening the restaurant would create jobs in his district.

"We've got a lot of the same type of restaurants in the city," he said. "I think ... people want to see something different."

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