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Report: Despite Complaints, Walgreens Expected To Go Ahead On Lincoln Park Church Site

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Some neighbors are voicing concerns about a three-story Walgreens drugstore that is now planned for Armitage Avenue in the Lincoln Park neighborhood.

The new Walgreens is planned for 834 W. Armitage Ave., the site of the recently-vacated Greater Little Rock the Lord's Church.

The predominantly African-American church recently moved from the site at Armitage Avenue and Dayton Street to a new facility at 647 N. Kedzie Ave. on the city's West Side. Now, developers plan to have the church building torn down to make way for the Walgreens.

Crain's Chicago Business reports many neighbors voiced opposition to the plan at a meeting Monday night, including concerns about delivery trucks disrupting the quiet residential neighborhood. Crain's reports neighbors also questioned how a huge new Walgreens would affect the neighborhood, which is now dominated by fancy shops, restaurants and boutiques, as well and the Lincoln Park branch of the Old Town School of Folk Music.

But Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) told the crowd that the hulking new Walgreens is permitted under the current zoning at the site, Crain's reports.

Smith does plan to propose an ordinance that would render that stretch of Armitage Avenue dry, ensuring that Walgreens does not get the liquor license it wants for the store, the newspaper reported.

The Greater Little Rock the Lord's Church had been in operation at the site since 1973. But the Rev. Clarence Taylor Bryant, pastor of the church, recently told WBBM Newsradio's Steve Miller the congregation had dwindled to 100, and many church members had trouble getting up three flights of stairs to the sanctuary.

So the church elected to move to its West Side space, which is only one floor. Bryant sold the space last month for more than $2.6 million.

Large, upscale Walgreens stores like the one that will likely replace the church are taking a foothold in Chicago.

The first opened this past January at 151 N. State St., in the Joffrey Tower. It occupies about 22,000 square feet on two levels, and features amenities such as a sushi bar, a station for fruit juice shakes, and a barista bar for coffee; along with a beer, wine and spirits section featuring tastings.

Pharmacists at the store have been moved out front from behind the counter to consult with patients out front.

Walgreens is also planning new, upscale stores in the Tribune Tower, 435 N. Michigan Ave., and in the old Great Ace hardware/Borders bookstore building, at 2817 N. Clark St. in the East Lakeview neighborhood.

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