Wrigley Field may be getting a new neighbor. The planned Addison Park on Clark development, which includes residences, retail space, and hotel rooms located adjacent to the ballpark, has gained the backing of 44th Ward Alderman Tom Tunney. The proposal needs final approval from the Chicago Plan Commission and the City Council Zoning Committee before it can proceed, and the Alderman’s support is seen as critical to moving the project forward. The development would bring significant new density to the area, but opponents fear the retail-intensive project could alter the character of the neighborhood.
The project would be comparable in height to the historic ballpark and would be built on a combination of surface parking lots and on the site of existing, mostly single-story buildings along Clark Street. In response to concerns from some neighbors and business owners, the developers, M&R, have substantially reduced the scale of the project, which originally included two towers that would have loomed over the field.
“It’s been a two-and-a-half year process. The developers have greatly reduced the height and have worked closely with the community development committee to respond to neighborhood concerns,” said Bennett Lawson, deputy alderman for the ward.
Designed by Solomon Cordwell Buenz (SCB), the current scheme will include 135 rental apartments, 137 hotel rooms, and over 145,000 square feet of retail space on two levels. “The project will reinforce the vibrant retail corridor,” said John Lahey, president of SCB. “It’s not a mall at all. It will be a very vibrant street front.” Retail spaces will all be accessed from the street, and second-story spaces will have ground-level frontage as well. The project’s design reflects elements in the neighborhood, including corresponding building heights, and brick and limestone elements in the facade. Lahey stressed that the project won’t mimic the historic ballpark. “It will be a contemporary building, not a nostalgic one,” he said.
Several buildings housing businesses will be demolished to make way for the project, including the Improv Olympics, a comedy venue. Lawson said the alderman’s office and the developer will work to relocate the businesses, some within the new project. Several large billboards will also be removed as a result of the development. “There will be wider sidewalks on Clark Street, new street trees, new alleys, lots of bricks and mortar improvements for the neighborhood,” Lawson said.
The developers also noted the project’s sustainable features, including several green roofs and roof gardens, bike parking, and LEED Silver construction, along with its location near an El stop and several bus lines. “Shouldn’t we have denser development near transit nodes?” Lahey asked.
Lahey agrees that the project will change the character of the neighborhood, though he is convinced that change will be for the better. “The site currently isn’t very urban. It’s a lot of parking lots and single-story buildings,” he said. “A building can clarify and organize a place. It will be a foil to Wrigley Field that will strengthen the fabric of the neighborhood.”