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Today, Mayor Rahm Emanuel provided an update on the progress being achieved through the administration’s new crime-fighting strategy targeting problem businesses in Chicago’s neighborhoods that have been known to serve as conduits for criminal activity. Since its launch in April 2012, the strategy has led to more than 100 new investigations, 34 business closures and 223 building demolitions.
“We are using every asset at our disposal to keep our neighborhoods safe and setting our sights on problem businesses, violent street corners, and open drug markets,” said Mayor Emanuel, reaffirming his pledge when this initiative launched. “The message is clear that if you are a business that sells to minors or assists criminals, or you let your vacant property become a base for gang members, we will shut you down and help neighbors reclaim their communities.”
Working with neighborhood, religious and elected leaders, the administration links complaints received at various city agencies to build a case against these stores. Empowered with disciplinary tools from City departments including the Chicago Police Department (CPD), the Department of Buildings (DOB), the Law Department and the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP), actions that have been taken include business license revocation, safety closures, increased inspections and fines.
Since the launch of the strategy on April 11, 2012, more than 100 problem businesses have been investigated. These locations combined had roughly 1,400 criminal incidents reported and nearly 1,000 arrests. The multi-agency inspections have closed 34 businesses for healthy and safety concerns and 14 of these businesses, including seven liquor stores, remain closed under Department of Buildings order today. Additionally, the city has revoked 10 liquor licenses.
Also, BACP has established a “flagged businesses list,” containing 37 businesses with high number of violations, and implemented a strategy of heightened enforcement consisting of additional inspections visits to improve compliance with city laws and regulations.
In addition to targeting problem businesses in Chicago’s neighborhoods to combat crime, the City’s vacant buildings demolition initiative continues to eliminate vacant structures that serve as headquarters for gang and drug activity. Since launching in July, the City has demolished 223 buildings in high crime districts.
“The Chicago Police Department is working to aggressively take enforcement action against problem businesses that often harbor drug dealers and gang members,” said Superintendent Garry McCarthy. “By working with other City departments and the community to eliminate problem establishments and the criminal activity that occurs within them, we are ensuring that our neighborhoods are safe places for our residents to live, work and play."
One example of this strategy at work is Phoenix Liquors, located on E. 75th Street. With 515 calls for service to the CPD in just 12 months, including a shooting in front of the location, the Department of Buildings was able to take closure action when inspections revealed unsafe conditions with possible collapse hazards. Since the property was closed on July 11, there has been no criminal activity in front or at the property. Building owners have been unable to make the necessary repairs to comply with safety codes, and the property is now in foreclosure. It is likely the problem business will permanently leave the location.