Two more tattoo parlors may open in downtown Elgin
By Mike Danahey firstname.lastname@example.org @DanaheyECN on Twitter September 2, 2013 3:20PM
Topnotch Tattoos, 216 E. Chicago St., in downtown Elgin, could get some competition after the city council granted condiitonal approval for two more tattoo parlors nearby. | Sun-Times file photo
Updated: October 4, 2013 6:11AM
ELGIN — Already home to Topnotch Tattoos at 216 E. Chicago St., downtown Elgin is set to hold two more body art-applying establishments — although some locals are making a stink about the city allowing the additional places to get inked and pierced.
Last Wednesday, the city council heeded the recommendations of its Planning & Zoning Commission and granted conditional use approval to the owners of Funky Monkey, 73 S. Grove Ave., by an 8-1 vote and to Big Heads Tattoos LLC, 210 DuPage St., by a 5-4 margin. Ordinance approval — the final step in the process — is scheduled for a vote at the next city council meeting, on Sept. 11.
According to supporting material for last week’s council meeting, Sarah Mooney and her husband Jose M. Napoles Colin of St. Charles have backgrounds in painting, drawing and sculpture, and intend to operate Funky Monkey as a tattoo parlor and art gallery. The spot they will be renting recently had held a skateboarding shop.
Councilman John Prigge cast the only nay vote on the Funky Monkey matter, stating that he was concerned there would be an oversaturation of parlors and that he fretted allowing three of anything so close to each other.
The Downtown Neighborhood Association website currently has no list of downtown businesses. But a cursory drive-through of the area shows it holds two pizza parlors, two cafes, two Thai restaurants, three pub-style eateries, at least three (and soon more) art galleries or studios, and — depending on how one defines the downtown’s boundaries — at least two and up to five Mexican restaurants.
“I thought Funky Monkey was superior in its approach and better met the vision for downtown as a growing arts community,” Mayor Dave Kaptain stated in an email Friday.
Kaptain added that he “did not receive one objection to the Funky Monkey proposal but has had three or four objections to Big Heads from neighboring businesses. I expect there will be more businesses objecting.”
Kaptain, Prigge and council members Terry Gavin and Carol Rauschenberger voted against the Big Heads matter.
According to supporting material for the meeting, Marco Muniz of Streamwood intends to open the tattoo and piercing business on the first floor of the rented space on DuPage Street and have a private graphics studio on the second floor for creating tattoo and airbrushed art.
The spot is to be run by Muniz and Mario Milazzo.
In an email sent Thursday night, Rauschenberger stated, “I felt that two tattoo parlors in our very small downtown would be enough as the city tries to get a variety of businesses downtown. I confirmed that the Grove Street business was the first to apply for conditional use.”
Rauschenberger also stated that she went to the DuPage Street location, “knocked on the door — no answer. I spoke to several neighboring business owners and other business owners who saw I was there and came to talk with me. The main complaint was that this property, since it was purchased in 2007, has had over 40 police incidents.”
She added that her hope is “since the council voted for conditional use as a tattoo parlor that Big Heads Tattoo and the landlord will be good business neighbors and add to our community in a positive way.”
According to Downtown Neighborhood Association Executive Director Deirdre Higgins White, the association “did not court either tattoo shop. We don’t take a stance on it, but are aware of the feedback and concerns from community business owners and community members. (They have) concerns about the building at 210 DuPage and current activity there and the (Big Heads) tattoo parlor’s owner’s background.”
The current tattoo parlor downtown — Topnotch — has been open since 1999. Last week, in a prepared statement, owner/operator and Elgin resident Lucas Clifford reiterated to the city council concerns he raised to the planning and zoning commission in early August.
“To condense all of those shops in such a small area all within a block-and-a-half/two blocks from me, it seems like overkill. I would imagine there’s got to be other areas of Elgin where they could maybe spread themselves out a little bit and give ourselves some distance. Tattooing is not a business like a restaurant, for instance. Everyone has to eat several times a day. No one has to get a tattoo. They choose to,” Clifford told the council and the commission.
In an email Friday, Big Heads Tattoos LLC’s attorney, Scott Richmond of Elgin, stated that Clifford “has had a monopoly in the downtown area for tattoo parlors and does not want to lose it. He is spearheading efforts to prevent my client from being able to operate its business near his. There is no basis for his objection other than he does not want competition. The United States free market capital system is based on freedom of choice and competition. He wants to impede that.”
As for questions concerning Muniz’s background, Richmond had no comment.
“The petitioner for the conditional use is a corporate entity, and Mr. Muniz’s personal background is not relevant to the petition before the city council,” Richmond stated.