Wrigleyville project stirs debate

June 17, 2010 (CHICAGO)

On game days, the corner of Clark and Addison is bustling, but during out of town games and the off season Wrigleyville slows down almost to a complete stop.

"We want to encourage retail development and activity 365 days a year," said said 44th Ward Alderman Tom Tunney.

That is why Tunney is supporting a controversial project called Addison Park on Clark.

"There's a hotel and there's an apartment building, two separate buildings. They sit on top of a two-story base that's all retail and all the parking is below ground," said John Lahey, architect, Solomon Cordwell Buenz Architects.

Because a souvenir and body shop refused to sell, the project encompasses everything but the corner of Clark and Addison. Lahey began working with the developer three years ago. After 30 community meetings, the plan has changed quite a bit. It went from 22 story towers down to eight story towers. The design has been revamped as well.

"We wanted to use materials that were similar to those in the neighborhood and adapt them to a more modern expression," said Lahey.

Lahey is confident the changes will be supported by City Hall. But several Wrigleyville residents came to the Chicago plan commission Thursday to voice their opposition.

"It's entirely unnecessary. I don't see what it would bring to the neighborhood that isn't already there," said Nathan Cotter.

"This block is beautiful the way it is. It has all sorts of fun things that support the historical landmark that is Wrigley Field and complement that and I don't think that we need to tear them to put down and put in stores that you can find on Southport and Addison," said Rachel Moeller.

Some of the opposition comes from performers at the Improv Olympic, a comedy theatre that will be torn down to make room for the project.

Alderman Tunney says he will work with displaced tenants to try to get them space either in the new building or somewhere else in his ward. The project still has a way to go to get City Hall approval.

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