In 1939, the Old Crawford Inn first opened its doors in Skokie at 9956 Crawford Ave., just a stone’s throw from neighboring Evanston.
Back then, Evanston was a dry town, and residents would walk across Crawford Avenue to Skokie to grab a beer. In 1952, the Old Crawford Inn was sold and would later become UBAA Tap. In November 2011, UBAA closed its doors and was eventually sold to Terraco Real Estate Development and Management.
Now, the once-popular bar will become a Walgreens. The Skokie Village Board unanimously approved six different measures that will allow the project to move forward on Monday. The approval came just three months after the opening of Walgreens' "flagship" store at Dempster Street and Crawford Avenue.
Some of the approved measures will allow the Walgreens to sell beer, wine and also have a drive-thru lane for prescription pickups.
Just two blocks north is a CVS pharmacy and 12 blocks south is Walgreens’ “flagship” store.
About a half a dozen residents, who live near the now-vacant UBAA Tap, spoke out against the development prior to the board vote.
“Small operation [type businesses] will be replaced by a large, 23-foot structure owned by a large corporation,” said Cindy Latin, who lives just down the street from the new Walgreens site. “It will be a behemoth among the current housing and will affect residential life.
“This is not Dempster Street,” Latin added.
Meanwhile, Evanston resident David Jansen said the new Walgreens would cause a “traffic gridlock” on Old Orchard Road.
“Because of Old Orchard Road’s design, I think we’re asking for a lot of traffic accidents,” Jansen said.
Skokie resident Maria Ford had other concerns.
Ford said she has two children that attend Highland Elementary, which is just three blocks from the Walgreens site.
“The area will not be safe for biking or walking to school,” Ford said.
Ford also added that the new Walgreens would be the third business to sell alcohol in the area.
“I’m not sure how many times I’ve had to clean up beer bottles in my area – that are not from my neighbors - and explain to my children how they got there. And now we want to add a third establishment selling liquor?”
Technically speaking, the UBAA Tap site is designated as a commercial area. Plan Commissioner Chair Paul Luke said if Walgreens wasn’t seeking to sell liquor and have a drive thru that Terraco could have built it without the board’s approval.
It is unclear when construction will begin. Store hours have been set from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. The building will also stand 23-feet tall at its peak and be 14,490 square feet inside. The Walgreens at the intersection of Demspter Street and Crawford Avenue is 29-feet tall.
Evanston Alderman Mark Tendam (6th Ward) said a lot of his constituents have concerns about the proposed site.
“We’re probably impacted more than Skokie residents,” Tendam said. “I expect Terraco and village staff to work with Evanston as they work with Skokie.
“We need to really, really connect on this and make this work for all residents, both Skokie and Evanston.”