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Trustees Reverse Course in Approving Walgreens Store

Modified plan eases concerns about 13,100-square-foot store at controversial site in Skokie.

It was a victory that came late, but a victory nonetheless for Walgreens.

On Monday night, the drugstore giant received approval from the village's board of trustees to construct a new store at the southeast corner of Dempster Street and Crawford Avenue.

The decision came after trustees rejected a similar plan in January. However, Walgreens got another chance when a modified plan was approved by village staff and the Planning Commission.

The revised proposal eased the concerns of Mayor George Van Dusen and trustees Donald Perille, Edie Sutker and Michael Lorge, all of whom had voted against the first plan. Colleagues Randall Roberts and Pramod Shah continued their support for the plan, while Michele Bromberg remained opposed to it.

That voting pattern remained constant for the four parts of the five part proposal; however Perille and Sutker joined Bromberg in voting against the special use permit for the drive-through.

Among the changes was the removal of an exit from the drive-through onto Harding Avenue.  Also, a right turn onto Harding is now prohibited and there will be additional signs and curbing to discourage people from making an illegal turn.

The drugstore giant will also team up the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) to increase the striping markers on Dempster and making changes in the traffic light cycle to allow more time for left turns by motorists. Another part of the construction is the razing of a house, now part of the site, for a 22 feet alley that will be used for people leaving the drive-through.

“They addressed the concerns I had by working with IDOT and getting an extended left turn bay onto Crawford that will store three to four extra cars,” Perille said.

Perillie acknowledged the residents on Harding had some legitimate concerns. He said he did not think the drive-through was necessary but was satisfied with the "big change" that would turn motorists away from using Harding.

Bromberg remained steadfast in her opposition after the meeting.

“I just felt for that particular location that it was just not suited,” she said. “I just felt it [the store] would have been better in another location.”

Among those disappointed with the decision were Jacob and Maritza Monahemi who own the building where a Walgreens store has been for the past 25 years. The lease on that store at Dempster and Karlov Avenue expires in November 2014, and Walgreens must give notice a year before that time whether it plans to vacate the site.

Walgreens has already notified the Monahemis that it plans to vacate that store once the new 13,125 square feet, a single-story building is completed.

“We have done work on the parking lot, so we have done a lot of things to accommodate Walgreens," said their attorney, Berton Ring. "The village of Skokie is not really benefiting from this as there will still be an empty spot.”

The debate Monday night about the store went on for nearly two hours, with residents providing their input.

“The neighborhood shouldn’t have to suffer for the corporate prestige of a Deerfield-based corporation,” said resident Irv Funk.

But another resident, Seymour Schwartz, countered, saying, “Anybody that lives near a busy, commercial street knows what they are getting into.”

Now that the village board has passed the proposal, an ordinance will need to be written and drafted approving the zoning changes. That could come before the village board as early as May.

The story has been updated to reflect the owners of the Pita Inn do not own the property where the Walgreen's will be constructed.  Patch regrets the error.

Mike Voitik April 06, 2011 at 02:02 PM
"The new store will replace a collection of shops at the intersection. Attempts to reach the owner of those properties, which include the Pita Inn, were not successful Tuesday." To clarify, Pita Inn is not located at the site where Walgreen's proposes to relocate. Pita Inn is on the north side of Dempster Street (3910 Dempster Street), the development is proposed at the southeast corner of Dempster Street and Crawford Avenue (3939-3951 Dempster Street, 8742 Harding Avenue, and 8747 Crawford Avenue).
George Slefo April 06, 2011 at 02:26 PM
Thank you for the comment. The writer says that Pita Inn owns the property at the proposed site. It doesn't say that it is at the site.
Karen Buccola April 06, 2011 at 08:16 PM
I hope the plan includes an upgrade to the extremely poor lighting on Crawford Avenue, not to mention the horrible condition of the actual road. My understanding is that this is a Cook County road and that they are responsible for the maintenance of Crawford Avenue.
Jerry Kohn April 07, 2011 at 05:27 PM
The article makes it sound as if the residents were split 50-50 in favor or against the project. In fact, about a dozen residents spoke out against the project, including those who live on Harding. Only two or three spoke in favor, and none of them live anywhere near the proposed site. This was another rubber stamp by our village trustees who completely ignored their own citizens that they supposedly represent.

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