February 27, 2009

Alderman, MAC support zoning change to allow hard liquor in 53rd St. building

MAC Property Management held a public meeting Monday to discuss its proposal to rezone the Del Prado, a building located at East 53rd Street and South Hyde Park Boulevard, so that businesses in the building will be able to obtain licenses to sell hard liquor. Restaurants in the building are currently permitted to sell beer and wine.

The rezoning proposal is part of an effort by MAC, which owns the property, to attract prospective restaurateurs to lease 12,000 square feet of vacant retail space on the ground floor of the building, according to MAC spokesman Peter Cassel. Alcohol sales have a much larger profit margin than other menu items.

Hyde Parkers expressed concern over a “special use” clause in the new zoning, which could attract liquor stores, according to Cassel. Both Alderman Leslie Hairston and Cassel said that no plans were being made for a liquor store.

“The alderman made it pretty clear that she wasn’t going to let there be a liquor store there,” said Kim Webb, Hairston’s chief of staff. “That ended concerns.”

The rezoning proposal is identical to another submitted by MAC last October that allowed restaurants on East 55th Street between South Cornell Avenue and the Metra Line to acquire liquor licenses. The city council passed the proposal January.

MAC acquired the Del Prado last winter and has plans to rehabilitate it this spring.