A Walgreens store could be moving in to the former site of UBAA Tap at 9956 Crawford Ave., after developers turned down offers from several other tenants including Tilted Kilt, a Hooter's like bar and restaurant chain.
UBAA Tap - also formerly known as UBAA Old Crawford Inn - first opened its doors in 1939. Patch food critic Bill Burman described the restaurant by saying, "stopping in here is like paying a visit to your grandmother, if she were the type to cook you up some strong wings, put the game on for you and pour you a beer."
The restaurant closed its doors around October of last year, and has been on the market for development ever since. The location sits across the street from Evanston homeowners on Crawford Avenue and a large condo complex to the north.
While developers are currently seeking approval for a Walgreen's store from the village of Skokie, the property could have been something entirely different, according to developer Scott Gendell, president of Terraco Real Estate Development and Management.
"We fielded offers from bars like The Tilted Kilt or Twin Peaks," said Gendell, who is also developing a Trader Joe's on Chicago Avenue in Evanston. "McDonald's was interested, too. But in the end we thought the best thing for the community was a Walgreens.
"The [current] building is fundamentally obsolete," he added.
As it stand right now, the former UBAA Tap is vacant, as are two other store fronts attached to the building. The only remaining business is Dallia Floor and Wall Co., which will be moving to a new location near Golf Road and Crawford Avenue. Otherwise, the vacant property isn't generating any tax revenue for Skokie.
Evanston Residents Worry About Hours, Liquor Sales
Alderman Mark Tendam (6th Ward) said a lot of his constituents have concerns about the proposed site. Namely, they worry about light pollution and noise, as well as the hours of the Walgreens.
"The way the property is situated, there's certainly going to be an impact on Evanston residents," he said. "I know there are concerns about the hours, about liquor sales ... I know there are already two other liquor stores in that stretch of Old Orchard Road, so I don't know how much booze we need in that stretch."
Walgreens is currently seeking a liquor license from the village of Skokie, and the site of the proposed store sits directly across from Toni's Liquors, which has been a Skokie establishment for several decades. One employee said he isn't concerned about the competition.
"It would be like comparing apples to oranges," the employee said about the selection of liquor the two stores will offer. "We're not the slightest concerned."
Skokie Homeowner Stands to Benefit
Meanwhile, residents that live nearby have mixed feelings about the proposed Walgreens.
Peter Kim, 69, said the building is an eyesore and welcomes the new development.
"I think it's a good idea," Kim said. "Skokie is an old town. It will be better for the community."
If the development goes through, however, Walgreens will purchase Kim's home for an undisclosed amount and tear it down for their own development. The drugstore did something similar when it recently built its "flagship" store at Dempster Street and Crawford Avenue less than a year ago.
Other nearby Skokie residents, however, are not so thrilled about the decision. Cindy Latin, who has lived down the street from UBAA for nearly 25 years, noted that there's already a CVS drugstore two blocks away at Crawford Avenue and Central Street.
"Why do we need another Walgreens?" Latin asked. "How many pharmacies does a community need? I know a lot [of my neighbors] aren't happy about this. Our quiet street is going to have cars flying through it now."
About one block away from the proposed site is Highland Elementary School. Latin said some parents are concerned about the traffic the pharmacy giant will bring to the area.
Meeting Scheduled Thursday, Dec. 6
The Village of Skokie Plan Commission will be holding a meeting on Dec. 6 at 7:30 p.m. to discuss the new Walgreens. The meeting will be held at Skokie Village Hall, 5127 Oakton St., and is open to the public.