Neighbors fire out concerns at potential new Damen Ave. event space operators


Matt Edgar (r) explains proposed plans while Joe Barker (l) and Dylan Hyde Castle (c) listen

A crowd fired out concerns about a proposed PPA (Public Place of Amusement) license for the ground level corner space of 1714 N. Damen, during 32nd Ward Alderman Scott Waguespack's public meeting in the proposed space, Monday evening. 


Corner space of 1714 is in the lower right

The space at the southwest corner of St. Paul and Damen Avenues was formerly the home of Jacobs' Marc by Marc Jacobs, opened in 2008 and closed in 2015. Built in the mid-1910s for manufacturing, the three-story building has a fitness center on the second floor and educational business on the third floor. 

John Krenger, building owner since 1985, is taking the initiative of turning the under 4,000 square foot area into an event space. This does not include the ground floor section on the south side of the building, the home for BCBG Maxazria until 2015. According to Krenger on Tuesday, it will continue to be used for pop-ups and is not part of the proposed PPA license. 


John Krenger

In a C1 zone, by-right, taverns and liquor stores are permitted. However, Krenger, who is not asking for a liquor license, went to Waugespack offering to have a Plan of Operation for the proposed event space usage, which requires a PPA license. 

That Operations document will be attached to the PPA. Failure to adhere to the items in the Plan can cause the PPA license to be revoked. The license is granted by the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (DBACP). 

The community's participation with the Alderman's office provides a way to have restrictions for the space usage. Restrictions examples could be that event hours be limited to midnight on Monday through Saturday and 1 a.m. on Sunday; trash must be picked up for a two-block area along St. Paul; security guards will have "security" on the backs of their outer garment. 

In the Plan of Operation draft* for the high-ceilinged, glass-fronted space, potential uses are:  "Private parties, weddings, cultural events or other organized functions…arranged by invitation or reservation only for a defined number of persons and not open to the general public." These fall under the Chicago Public Place of Amusement Ordinance (4-156-300 et seq)


Community members are listening to the presenting potential operators

Key issues brought up at the meeting by the community include noise, loitering, liter, garbage, smoking, parking, lines of people on the sidewalk as well as loading and unloading. 

Both Krenger and Elizabeth Gomez, Waguespack's Director of Business Assistance and Community Outreach, expressed that it is possible to address the concerns. 


This resident expressed a great deal of concern for the disruption over-served people create

"We need to have more people on the street," says Gerhard Zinserling whose architectural firm and home are in the area. He points out that having more traffic of people will bring more business to the area. "It takes thinking outside the box to make that happen," he says, explaining that more bars are not the answer but this usage may be. 

Having known Krenger for three decades, Zinserling believes that he is totally trustworthy to have the PPA license. 

Another neighbor is skeptical, saying that he thinks that this is another way of getting a liquor license. 


Sararose Krenger listens as another resident comments about proposed event space

Having had a pop-up store in the building for a year, Sararose Krenger, John's daughter, said that business to business partnering and using local businesses as resources can help not only the businesses but also the residents. She encourages everyone to work and shop locally. 

To benefit the neighborhood, operations representatives offered up the idea of using the space for an indoor winter farmers market and other local events such as a polling place. A few neighbors said that they did not feel that they had given enough thought to what they could do for the neighborhood. 

With ground floor commercial space vacant for two years, Krenger must have the space generating revenue to keep the building viable for his investment. He stressed that it is vital to him to have a usage that works for his tenants, neighbors and himself and welcomes people to call him directly if they have issues with his building. 


Elizabeth Gomez

The next step is that residents are encouraged to send suggestions for issues to be covered in the Plan to Gomez

When residential and commercial usages are mixed, it is not unusual to have concerns on both sides. Successful co-habitation generally results with upfront planning and ongoing communications. 

Business Structure and Meeting Details
The business structure for the space usage is being headed by Prery. It is owned by Krenger. 

Serving as the managing agent for Prery, A.I.S. (Audio Integration Services) is a Chicago based Audio-Visual installation company. Matt Edgar is A.I.S's CEO and has Dylan Hyde Castle on his team. Black Label Security will be a sub-contractor under A.I.S., providing the security for A.I.S. in this endeavor. It is owned by Joe Barker. 

At the Monday night meeting, Edgar, Hyde Castle and Barker spoke about the plan for the space explaining what they would not be doing as well as what they would be doing, if approved. 

Highlights of the Will-Not Do list are:

  • hiring promoters to bring in performers for concerts/show…experience with bars and night clubs, such as the Green Dolphin, have made that type of operation unacceptable to many residents
  • operating as a night club
  • applying for a City of Chicago Late Hour Liquor License
  • operating between 2 and 7 a.m. Monday thru Saturday and 3 to 11 a.m. on Sunday 

On the Will-Do list:

  • work with the event leasee's production staff to abide by all  rules and regulations for the space
  • have leasee staff hire licensed certified food and beverage catering companies which also carry their own insurance
  • maintain video surveillance currently totaling 15 cameras, having tapes available to the Chicago Police Department
  • have security personnel inside and outside monitoring behavior and noise levels 

Once the final Plan of Operation is created and submitted, registered voters within 250 feet of the business will be notified by DBACP. 

Who are the business people
Interested in the track record of all partnership members, residents asked about the experience of Edgar and Barker and how they will address the neighbors' concerns. 


Steve Jensen, Bucktown Community Organization President, expressed concern about pop-ups impacting sales of local merchants

In addition to built-in security, Barker explained that his firm covers security for approximately 10 businesses each week, including some in West Town establishments--Debonair Social Club, Estelle's and a new popup. In the business for about 10 years, he has 30 trained and available staff members. 

"What we are looking for here is safety," Barker said. With patrons invited, the kind of crowd is known before the event and staffing can be matched with that type of crowd. He pointed out that more hands on staff, for example, will be used when more children are included. 

For events, staff will walk the perimeter and there will be set exit doors and smoking areas. 

Several condo owners in the four-building, 124-unit complex are particularly concerned about noise, parking, smoking, lines of people, trash as well as loading and unloading. 

According to Edgar and Krenger, they will use measuring devices for noise to insure that levels are within regulations. They also said that they want a relationship with neighbors so that any issues that may arise can be worked out amicably. For starters, they will be adding sound abatement material to the ceiling and include long curtains, according to Edgar. 

Whereas the capacity of the site is listed as 500, the actual number of people that would be on site would be substantially less than that. Capacity is derived by how many people could fill the space, lined up shoulder to shoulder. 

In reality, Hyde Castle pointed out that tables and chairs alone reduce people space to two to three hundred. 

Regarding lines of people on the sidewalk as well as loading and unloading, the condo dwellers used a pop-up event with IKEA as an example of unwelcome activity. Krenger explained that that was his first popup and that he learned a lot about what not to do. 


Paul Sajovec

Parking was one of the more discussed topics. As explained by Paul Sajovec, Alderman Waguespack's Chief of Staff, a Parking Determination Letter from the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection will state how many parking spaces will be required for the space. 

Sajovec also pointed out that the space cannot open until the parking requirement is fulfilled. It is predicated that most event attendees will arrive by ride share or public transportation.


Licensee: ​1714 N. Damen Ave Limited Partners LLC DBA: Prery  
Premises : ​1714 N. Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 
License Type: ​Public Place of Amusement (1050) 
Pursuant to City of Chicago Municipal Code ("M .C.C.") Sections 4-60-040 (h} and 4-156-311 (d}3(A), the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection ("BACP") I Local Liquor Control Commission ("LLCC") of the City of  Chicago and the above-named Licensee have agreed to the issuance of a Public Place of Amusement License under the following conditions:  
    1. Licensee/Applicant to operate Event Space at 1714 N. Damen Avenue, Chicago, Illinois. Licensee will limit its entertainment activities requiring licensure under the City of Chicago Public Place of Amusement Ordinance (4-156-300 ​et seq.)​ to the following:
A. Private parties, weddings, cultural events or other organized functions (e.g., corporate events, charitable functions, political fundraisers, etc.) arranged by invitation or reservation only for a defined number of persons and not open to the general public;
B. Musicians performing in the Premises' interior only;  
C. Lectures, seminars, exhibitions and other similar artistic presentations;  
D. ​Seasonal and/or event-specific entertainment in the Premises' interior (e.g., Mother's Day brunch, Christmas season celebrations, pop-up shops,  etc.​); ​and 
E. Social, leisure, and sporting activities (e.g., rental fees for individual sporting games, local team celebratory events, etc.). 
2​. Licensee will not operate any portion of the Premises during prohibited hours of operation as set forth in Section 4-60-130 of the Municipal Code of Chicago, specifically, between the hours of 2:00 a.m.. and 7:00 a.m. Mondays through Saturdays, and between the hours of 3:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. on Sundays. Licensee will not operate any portion of the Premises as a nightclub. 
3. ​Licensee will ensure that all windows and/or doors from the Premises to the outdoors will be closed at lO:OOPM.  
4. Licensee shall maintain video surveillance currently existing of (9) IVMS-4500 exterior cameras and (6) Kyieth Tech interior cameras. Copies of the video surveillance shall be made available to the Chicago Police Department upon its request. Licensee shall engage the services of a licensed and bonded security company. Licensee's security persons shall have the following duties and responsibilities:  
A. Act to prevent excessive noise when patrons leave the premises; 
B. With management, keep a count of patrons in the Premises to insure that the maximum occupancy s not exceeded using hand clickers to monitor the number of patrons entering and exiting;  
C. Not permit intoxicated persons to enter the premises;  
D. Security will continually patrol in the front and back of the premises to eliminate loitering and maintaining volume control; 
E. Observe the actions of Licensee's patrons on and adjacent to the premise.  
5. Licensee will not employ unlicensed promoters to market or advertise any entertainment activities conducted at the Premises. Licensee, however, may enlist the services of ​PR ​firms, ad agencies, wedding/event planners, etc. for advertising and marketing purposes.
6​. Licensee will deny entry to any person at such private party, function or event, who is visibly intoxicated and shall notify local police of ​al​l unlawful acts witnessed by, or reported to, any of its employees, including instances of public intoxication, loitering or other public disturbances. Licensee will train all employees regarding Licensee's duty to report such incidents.  
7. Licensee will meet with local Aldermen, City agencies and all local community groups at their reasonable request to identify, address and resolve all complaints accurately identified and ascribed to Licensee's busine​ss ​operations. 
8. Licensee will regularly monitor the exterior area around the premises during all of its business hours in order to addr​ess ​and abate any potential unusual or loud noise, loitering and littering issues. Trash removal will occur routinely Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Recycling removal will routinely occur Tuesday and Thursday.  
9. The Licensee will maintain in a lawful manner, sufficient trash containers to accommodate any additional waste generated in the unlikely event that extra waste is generated ​as ​a result of the issuance of a ​PPA License to the Licensee. 
10. ​Licensee will immediately address any public nuisance issues which adversely impact the health, safety, and welfare of the community and of which Licensee has actual or constructive notice. 
11. ​Licensee's food, beverage, and alcohol will only be provided by licensed caterers, and will be trained with respect to all requirements by law. All bartenders and wait staff will be trained to identify intoxicated patrons and will take pro-active steps to prevent the intoxication of patrons.  
12. Li​censee will enforce all applicable City and State non-smoking laws as they relate to both the interior and the exterior of the Premises. 
13​. Licensee will attend meetings with the Alderman, police commander, and community residents or groups, as necessary, to discuss any future concerns regarding the operations of the licensed business. 
14. ​Li​censee will not apply for a City of ​Ch​icago Late Hour Liquor License.  
15. ​Licensee will not amend this Plan without notice to the local Alderman.     
The agreed conditions of the public place of amusement license issued pursuant to this plan of operation are legally binding and may be enforced by the City of ​Ch​icago enforcement authorities. All other conditions of the license are governed by the City of Chicago Municipal Code. Violation of the above-stated conditions may also result in the issuance of Cease and Desist Orders prohibiting the activity which violates the conditions of the public place of amusement license.  
The agreed conditions of the public place of amusement license shall apply to the business address and licensee and to all officer​s,​managers, member​s,​partners and direct or indirect owners of the entity of which​is​licensed. The sale of the busine​ss ​to other persons purchasing the stock of the licensed entity shall be subject to the same agreed conditions set forth in th​is ​plan of operation. It shall be the duty of every person conducting, engaging in, operatin​g,​carrying on or managing the above​mentioned busine​ss ​entity to post this Plan of Operation next to the Public Place of Amusement License certifi​ca​te in a con​sp​icuous place at the business address. 


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