Upscale wine bar proposed for Oak Street

The long vacant and deteriorating building at 8118 Oak could be the site of an upscale wine bar if the developer can obtain all necessary approvals. At an on-site meeting last night the preliminary plans were presented to a crowd of about 100 nearby neighbors, Oak Street merchants and other interested parties.

The plans call for about 85 seats, live music (jazz combo scale), a large selection of wines, plus beer and spirits, food service, sound proofing and upscale finishings and fixtures. There is also room for 6 or so parking spaces in the rear of the property.

There is the fact that a moratorium on alcoholic beverage outlets, including bars, has been in effect for the area since April. The developer must obtain a waiver from the city council in order to open the wine bar. She is cooperating with the neighborhood in order to explain the nature of her business, respond to concerns and gain support for such a waiver. That was the main reason for the meeting last night.

Judging by comments made during and after the meeting those in attendance generally approved of the plans. Local merchants were enthusiastic about the possibility of having more early evening traffic on the street. Several said they would stay open later if the wine bar brought more customers onto Oak Street after 5:00.

Opposition seemed to center around two issues:

  • First, some fear that bars tend to attract trouble, including litter, loitering, vandalism and so on. We certainly see this with certain bars and ABOs in our area now, including the Frat House and small stores at Dante and Willow and Oak and Leonidas that sell take-away alcohol.  The developer countered that the upscale nature of the proposed business, and a “no one under 21” admission policy, will attract a much different clientele, with the target market being middle-aged folks looking for a sophisticated place Uptown for a drink, conversation and some music.
  • Second, there is a concern about the potential that allowing such a bar might create for a wave of other bar applications on Oak and for how that could impact the future of the street generally.  At bottom, all such applications are subject to approval by the City Council and we have only our civic activism to rely on to influence those political decisions.

Another meeting is planned soon and the time and place will be publicized in advance through this site and emails.

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