Naperville may allow downtown Walgreens to sell alcohol

  • The Walgreens in downtown Naperville isn't allowed to sell liquor because of concerns about alcohol-related crime in the area, but the city appears on track to relax the rule.

      The Walgreens in downtown Naperville isn't allowed to sell liquor because of concerns about alcohol-related crime in the area, but the city appears on track to relax the rule. Marie Wilson | Staff Photographer

 
 

The downtown Walgreens in Naperville could be about two weeks away from getting city permission to sell alcohol.

The city council could lift a prohibition from its Class V liquor license for pharmacies, allowing the drugstore at 400 S. Main St. to expand its drink selection to alcoholic beverages.

Concerns about downtown crime prevented the council from letting the store seek a license when it created the permit for pharmacies in fall 2014.

At that time, the council was dealing with the aftermath of a fatal DUI crash into a water-filled quarry and several fights; in fact, police say there were 26 DUIs and 55 arrests for assault, battery or fighting in the downtown in all of 2014.

In response, council members imposed new regulations on late-night bar entry, beer sizes, shot sales, drink specials and security training, and downtown bar operators began using a group communication app to warn each other of unruly patrons.

Council members and police say it appears these measures are working to create a calmer downtown.

Police statistics show downtown crime appears to be decreasing in DUIs and assault/battery/fighting, among other categories.

From Jan. 1 through the end of August this year, there have been 12 DUI arrests downtown and 8 arrests for assault, battery or fighting. With four months remaining in the year, neither appears on course to reach the 26 DUIs or 55 assault/battery/fighting arrests in 2014.

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Other crimes that appear to be decreasing include resisting arrest/interfering with officers, public urination and liquor code violations.

There have been four resisting or interfering with arrests this year, compared with 41 in all of 2014; police have recorded six public urination arrests this year, compared with 58 in all of 2014; and while there were four downtown liquor code violations in 2014, police say none have occurred so far this year.

If the council lifts the ban preventing downtown pharmacy liquor sales, the move could address what some say is a fairness issue.

If the Main Street Walgreens is cleared to apply for a license, it would have to pay $3,000 a year. The license would prohibit in-store sampling and sales of individual cans or bottles of beer, except for those defined as "craft beer" in the city's liquor code, and it says no more than 5 percent of the store's square footage can be devoted to alcohol.

The council is expected to vote on the license rule during its Oct. 4 meeting.

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