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Former Brown's Chicken site to become Chase Bank
By Kimberly Pohl | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 10/20/2009 12:02 AM

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Palatine officials and business owners overwhelmingly agree that a bank is likely the only business that will succeed at the long-vacant site of the former Brown's Chicken & Pasta, where seven people were killed in 1993.

On Monday, the council approved a proposal allowing for the bank building, a drive-through and special signage at the northeast corner of Northwest Highway and Smith Street.

"This would allow us to move on from something horrific that took place in our past," Councilman Aaron Del Mar said.

After the horrific murders, for which Juan Luna is serving a life sentence and James Degorski could be sentenced today, a dry cleaner replaced the restaurant but closed in 1994. The building sat vacant until it was razed in 2001. Since then, the empty lot is used as a Christmas tree lot during the winter and for parking. Village Manager Reid Ottesen said a for lease sign has been up "for years and years and years and years," but this is the first proposal to come before the council.

Added Councilman Jack Wagner: "It's been sitting for quite a long time. I don't think anyone else will be coming along soon."

Chase representatives, who first met with the village in June, are confident the site's history won't keep away customers the way they did the dry cleaning business.

"We think it's a good location and believe we can make a successful branch there," Chase Vice President Terry Roswick said.

Construction is expected to begin in the spring and be completed within 140 days of breaking ground.

A lengthy discussion took place at Monday's council meeting over parking concerns. Several owners of businesses in the shopping plaza don't believe there's enough parking. But Palatine officials say the lot will have 259 spaces once the bank is built - more than what's required by code.

Laurie Mitchell, whose family has owned Edelweiss Delicatessen since 1976, brought in pictures showing a full lot on a Saturday morning due to a group meeting at Vittorio de Roma's banquet hall. She's concerned her elderly customers especially won't be willing to walk from the adjacent Eurofresh Market, which patrons of the remaining businesses often have to utilize.

As a compromise, the village added a condition that a traffic study will be conducted six months after Chase opens to analyze the parking situation. Staff also recommended restriping the parking spaces so that they're vertical, which Ottesen said could add about 15 spots. Chase employees will also be required to park in the grocery store lot.