Council mulls request for rooftop patio at Kate’s

EVANSTON — Council members tabled a request that would allow Kate’s to serve alcoholic beverages on its rooftop. The request was discussed at length during the Aug. 1 Evanston City Council meeting.

If the request is approved, it would authorize Rachel’s LLC, dba Kate’s, to serve alcohol on the rooftop patio area of the establishment at 936 Main St.

Kate’s owner and operator Rachel Reifon said she wants to provide the rooftop patio bar to bring interest to the downtown area, believing it would be a great addition to the focus on revitalizing Main Street.

Mayor Kent Williams asked if all of the proper permits and reviews of the property had been done.

Kate’s representative Frank Brown said Uinta Engineering had looked over the structure of the building and had found it to be sound.

He also said fire and safety issues had also been looked at and approved.

Councilman Tim Lynch said he thought the concept of a rooftop patio was a great idea, but has concerns because of lack of information provided by the bar.

“The concept is awesome,” said Lynch. “I’d just like more information.”

Brown said there shouldn’t be any issues.

“We’re following all requirements and codes,” he said. “Our plans have been approved by the state.”

As discussion continued on the motion, Williams opened the floor to public comment.

Chris Youngman, who owns a building adjacent to Kate’s, said he thinks the rooftop patio would be a good thing for the downtown area.

“I believe they’ve gone a long way to make it safe for the community,” he said. “I am in favor of it.”

One community member who lives next to Kate’s was not so favorable toward the concept, expressing a number of concerns.

“I live on the second floor of my building, which looks out on the rooftop of Kate’s. I have a number of concerns,” Billie Carter said. “First, the bar will be right outside my patio window and the noise and hours of operation will be an issue.”

Brown said an insulated wall would be constructed to help cut down on the noise; however, Carter didn’t think it would help much since the wall would only be about 3 feet from her window.

“The music and people [making] noise until 2 a.m. is my biggest concern,” said Carter. “Plus, this proposed wall will block my view.”

Carter also voiced her concern that the rooftop patio could entice people into climbing the fire escapes onto the roofs and disrupting tenants even more.

Evanston Director of Planning and Engineering Dean Barker addressed the council, saying the bar had not submitted any information to the city.

“We had an impromptu meeting at Kate’s,” he said. “But we haven’t seen a full set of site plans or the structural analysis. That’s an old building and we don’t know if it will hold the proposed use.”

Barker said reviewing correct plans would probably solve any concerns regarding egresses and fire escapes.

As part of the project, a staircase to the rooftop would be constructed, along with the sound barrier wall and proper fire escapes.

Evanston Fire Cpt. Tim Overy told council members the fire department had not signed off anything regarding the rooftop patio.

“We haven’t seen anything yet, and they haven’t contacted us yet,” he said. “In my opinion, this should go before state review.”

Williams asked Overy what permits would be required.

He said Kate’s would need to get a building permit from the city, as well as a permit and approval from the fire marshal, before the building project could start.

Each council member spoke in favor of the rooftop patio concept, but said it seemed like there was some work to be done before they felt comfortable approving the motion.

“We don’t want to squash your idea,” said Williams. “We want to make sure it’s a viable plan before we approve it. I’m not comfortable with it either. We need to make sure all things are in order first.”

Lynch proposed the council table the request in order to get further information from Kate’s.

“I would like to table it until more information comes forward,” said Lynch. “I like the idea, but we need to know more.”

Councilman David Welling thought the idea was great, saying it is a trending thing across the nation.

“I love the concept,” he said. “We need more information and I think it will all work out.”

Evanston City Attorney Dennis Boal suggested the council table the motion to a specific date, so it doesn’t fall by the wayside; and provides all parties a specified amount of time to complete requirements and gather proper information.

After further discussion by the council, Lynch motioned to table the issue until Aug. 15, which is the next regular council meeting.

The motion to table was unanimously approved.

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