Evanston aldermen Monday unanimously rejected a plan to locate a liquor store in the former Quiznos shop at 812 Davis St.
The vote came after opponents presented petitions they said contained hundreds of signatures of neighbors opposed to the project.
John Pikarski, an attorney for applicant Nizar Alimohd, said Alimohd had spent $500,000 to buy the retail condominium that houses the store, plans $90,000 in renovations and would have $50,000 in inventory.
He said that although the city zoning code requires that the project be described as a convenience store, the fine wine and liquor business the owner intends to run would be far different from what people typically think of as a convenience store.
He added that, given the costs involved, the store wouldn’t be able to make it as a low-margin convenience store and “it only make sense for a fine wine store” with higher markups.
But aldermen said they were concerned about how Alimohd would operate the store, given that he began work to remodel it without obtaining city permits.
Alimohd also owns the Davis Pantry convenience store at 927 Davis St.
Alderman Cheryl Wollin, 1st Ward, earlier sent a letter to city staff saying that when she visited the convenience store she found customers smoking in the entranceway and that the store was not clean.
Residents and some aldermen said they believe there’s no need for a liquor or convenience store on the block, noting that there’s a convenience store just across the street and two other liquor stores downtown.
But Pikarski said that with 19,000 workers within walking distance and 8,000 residents downtown, there would be plenty of customers for the business.
The Zoning Board of Appeals had recommended approval of the project on a 3-1 vote, but the city’s Site Plan and Appearance Review Committee recommended denial on a 6-1 vote.