The Chicago Zoning Board of Appeals recently approved the drive-thru for what will be the second Galewood Starbucks at 2001 N. Harlem Ave., clearing the way for its construction.  

The coffee shop will be located roughly a mile north of the Starbucks at 7112 W. North Ave., currently the only Starbucks location not just in Galewood, but anywhere on the West Side. 

The project required the Chicago City Council to approve zoning changes for the two lots the Starbucks will occupy and for the Zoning Board to approve the drive-thru. The city council approved the zoning change on April 21, but the drive-thru didn’t go before the zoning board until Aug. 20.  

The Chicago Department of Planning and Development (DPD) wanted the Starbucks  abutting Harlem Avenue, while the coffee chain and project developer Capri Development favored keeping the building further from the sidewalk. 

The final layout presented during the Aug. 20 meeting was closer to the latter, with the building set further back and plants installed to create a buffer between the sidewalk and the parking lot. 

Capri Development owner Mathew Cairo said that once the drive-thru clears the zoning board, he expects to be able to start construction “pretty much immediately” and finish construction within 150 days. 

Oak Park-based Capri Development is a commercial developer that works with retail clients. The company built the plaza that includes the current Galewood Starbucks. Cairo previously said that Starbucks wanted the location based on the traffic studies. 

During his April 21 virtual community meeting, Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th), whose ward includes both locations, said that he supports the Harlem/Armitage Starbucks, noting that it might reduce drive-thru traffic at the North Avenue Starbucks location. 

The alderman also said that now that he has “a good point of contact” with Starbucks, he is trying to get it to open locations elsewhere in the 29th Ward. He submitted the letter supporting the project to the zoning board. 

Cairo previously said that Starbucks wanted the Harlem Avenue location to be similar to its existing Portage Park location at 4155 N. Cicero Ave., with indoor seating, a patio with outdoor seating and a drive-thru wrapping around the building. That location is set back from the sidewalk. 

At the time, Cairo argued that, since the city approved the Portage Park location’s drive-thru, it made no sense for it to deny the Harlem Avenue application.

Paul Kolpak, the attorney for the project, told the zoning board that the final layout was the result of a “collaboration between DPD and Starbucks.”

Dean Klein, Starbuck’s director of store development for the Midwest region, told the zoning board that the location would have 20 to 25 employees.  

Judith Alexander, the head of the North Avenue District organization, previously indicated that she supported the Harlem/Armitage Starbucks, because it would relieve the traffic back-ups at the North Avenue Starbucks during rush hour — something she reiterated in an interview following the Aug. 20 meeting. 

“I hope it takes the drive-thru pressure off of North Avenue,” she said. “Sometimes, they’re backed up a couple of blocks. The traffic is just a mess.”

Igor Studenkov is a winner of multiple Illinois Press Association awards for local government and business reporting. He has been contributing to Austin Weekly News since 2015. His work has also appeared...