Major development proposed near Wrigley

January 23, 2008 9:01:47 PM PST
There's a proposal to build two buildings, including a hotel, across from Wrigley Field. Hundreds attended a meeting Wednesday night between the developer and some community and business leaders to discuss the proposal.

The proposed building would reach about 10 feet higher than Wrigley Field.

Some are welcoming the plan, while others fear it will only add to the congestion around the Friendly Confines.

It is a plan that is far from being approved. Community meetings are just beginning. The project would have a footprint of 75,000 to 80,000 square feet. The Hyatt Corporation has expressed interest in running the site's 137-room hotel.

The proposal originally called for a high rise. But the new plan has been scaled back.

It is a prime piece of real estate, right across the street from Wrigley Field. There are a number of properties that one Chicago developer has spent the last 10 years buying up. Now, he wants to build a big development.

"The plan that we are proceeding with is a mixed use development that incorporates retail. It incorporates a hotel. It incorporates some rental housing, some residential. And there's a health club as well and parking for those uses," said John Lahey, project architect.

Lahey has the challenge of building around two properties that will not sell to developer Steve Schultz - Luis' Auto Repair and the souvenir shop on the corner of Clark and Addison are staying put. But, two lots around the corner on Clark have sold to Schultz, so the development will have two buildings.

"Both nine stories. A hotel building and a residential building. We separated them to give each their own identity and break down the scale ," said Lahey.

The plan is merely a proposal at this point. 44th Ward Alderman Tom Tunney said he believes there is a need for a hotel in the area, but Tunney is not ready to sign off on the project yet. Neighborhood groups were waiting to hear more on the proposal as well.

While some residents are concerned with the added congestion the project may bring, others say that comes with the territory.

"Well, if congestion really bothered me, I wouldn't want to live half a block from a 40,000-seat stadium. So it doesn't bother me ," said Ross Kooperman, Wrigleyville resident

Wednesday's meeting was called by Alderman Tunney. The point was for the developer to present his latest plan to neighborhood associations and nearby businesses, including the Cubs.

A spokesperson for the Cubs said they do not have stake in the proposal. While the organization said development would be good for the area, so far, they do not know enough about the project to endorse it.

"By no means are we interested in opening up the zoning quite expansively, unless there is some community consensus, something in it for the community that is beneficial," said Tunney.

"Right now it is a parking lot and a 7-11 and other things. I don't think they are optimal in terms of enhancing the neighborhood," said Lahey.

"What we are hearing is, we would like to buy this property zoned for a three-story building and build a nine-story building," said resident Connie Jurczyk.