Posts tagged with "wrigleyville":

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Chicago Cubs open the first of their major developments near Wrigley Field

In recent years, Cubs baseball fans have watched as the neighborhood immediately surrounding their beloved Wrigley Field transformed into a Cubs-themed village. A new hotel, residential real estate, and entertainment venues are making the area a year-round destination. Nearest and dearest to the stadium though is a new mid-rise office building and a public plaza. Designed by Stantec Architecture’s Chicago office, the project shares an odd-shaped block with the stadium and houses the baseball team’s administrative offices.

While the space is everything you might expect of a new office (with the addition of plenty of Cubs branding and some appropriately ivy-covered walls), it is the public plaza, currently being called the Park, that is creating the most buzz.

Debuted for the 2017 Cubs home opener, the Park is wedged between the stadium and the new office building. The ground floor of the office building houses a handful of stores and food and drinking options, but the plaza itself was designed to be used for more than just pregame events. Tiered seating, strategic plantings, and performance space provide opportunities to watch scheduled programs or just take in Wrigley’s atmosphere. Stantec took cues from Place des Vosges, in Paris, and Chicago’s Millennium Park when designing the Park, with the goal of making it more than just an entrance to the stadium.

“When we first dreamt about what the plaza could be, we wanted it to be more than just a walkway people pass through on game day,” said Grace Rappe, principal designer at Stantec. “We wanted to create a park for memories, a place for the community to gather and thrive.”

In its first year, the Park has already seen plans put in place to activate the space when there is not a game being played. The Old Town School of Folk Music has started biweekly morning and afternoon music programs. The nearby art-house Music Box Theatre will also be hosting six of the city’s “Movies in the Park”—the first of which will be, appropriately, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off; Rookie of the Year and The Sandlot are also on deck.

However, not everyone has had the same vision for the space. Local alderman Tom Tunney pushed, with some success, for a handful of restrictions on the use of the Park, citing the well-being of the residents of the surrounding neighborhood. Ald. Tunney was able to establish rules about who could drink alcohol in the Park on game days, and when. Currently, only ticket holders will be allowed onto the plaza immediately before and after the game, and barriers and bike racks have been set up to control the crowds. This did not make the Cubs administration too happy.

“I want to apologize to our fans when they show up today; they’re going to see bike racks and other things that channel them in and out of the Park, rather than walk in and let them enjoy it,” Crane Kenney, Cubs president of business operations, said to the press on opening day. “So we’ll try that for the first year and see how that works. Nobody has more to lose than we do if something happens that is untoward, and so we’ll police like we do everywhere else around Wrigley Field.”

Kenney had other words for the city, which he felt could have provided more financial support for the project, as it is part of a larger $500 million renovation of the entire complex.

“The mayor made clear the city could not give us the kind of financial support the White Sox got in rebuilding Comiskey Park or the Bears got renovating Soldier Field,” Kenney said.

Despite the financial discussion, the Cubs were openly grateful to Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who was on hand at the ribbon cutting. While the city has not provided the tax and financial backing the team had hoped, it has provided support through the temporary and permanent closing of multiple streets surrounding the stadium. 

Exactly what the Park’s role will be in the greater Wrigleyville neighborhood may still be up for debate, but, for the Cubs, the new space is a chance to reach out and bring the community a little closer. And timing couldn’t be better: With the Cubs winning the last World Series and effectively having the best season in the stadium’s 103-year history, much of the city is already going Cubs crazy.

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Wrigleyville is quickly developing into an entertainment hub that offers more than just baseball

Chicago’s Wrigley Field is more than a baseball stadium. It is a pilgrimage site for faithful Cubs fans and for anyone else serious about Major League Baseball. The second oldest Major League stadium, Wrigley has changed very little in its 102 years. On the other hand, the surrounding Lakeview neighborhood has evolved, and is evolving, at an ever increasing rate. Three new major projects immediately adjacent to the field are hoping to transform the area into a year-round attraction.

Sharing an irregular block with the stadium a new mid-rise tower is well on its way to completion. Designed by Stantec (formerly VOA), the mixed-use office-retail project will be the new home of the Cubs administration and a backdrop for a new plaza. The six-story structure is careful not to be taller than the stadium, and is only slightly taller than the three- and four-story residential neighborhood beyond. The triangular plaza created by the new building and the stadium is expected to be a vibrant public space with programing throughout the year.

“The Ricketts family’s goal is to provide an environment that is community-friendly and has a sense of space that can be a town square for Wrigleyville.” Hickory Street Capital’s vice president Eric Nordness, himself a Wrigleyville resident, said. “That can be everything from family ice skating in the winter and farmer’s markets in the summer and fall, all the way to kid’s theater programs and a maybe a movie series on the large AV screen on the front of the building.”

Along with the office project, Stantec and Hickory Street Capital are also behind a seven-story hotel beginning to rise across the street. The future Starwood Hotel will have 180 rooms, with extensive retail and concessions at street level. Both projects were initiated and backed by the Ricketts family, owners of the Cubs. The office tower and plaza are expected to be completed by summer 2017, and the hotel opening is planned for summer 2018.

Directly across the street to the south of the stadium, another major development has recently broken ground. The Solomon Cordwell Buenz-designed Clark and Addison is going up after nearly 10 years of negotiating with the public over the project’s form and program. Weaving between existing buildings along Clark street, the large mixed-use complex will include a 10-screen theater, retail, apartments, and a recreation clubhouse. Residents of the 148 apartments will have access to a community kitchen, a fitness center, event space, and a business center.  The building’s clubhouse will also offer over 5,000 square feet of indoor space and 8,746 square feet of rooftop outdoor space, which includes a pool and spa. The project steps back six feet at the street level to widen the sidewalk for the throngs of fans that pass the project on their way to the stadium.

By 2018, the heart of the Wrigleyville neighborhood will be unrecognizable, except for the constant that is Wrigley Field. Considering the proximity to Lake Michigan, transportation, a major university, and an already thriving nightlife scene, it was only a matter of time before the area around the field was updated. With a new public plaza, and more non-baseball related entertainment, the Friendly Confines will be just that much more friendly.

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Wrigley Field renovation saga goes into extra innings as neighbors reject latest plans

Chicago’s Wrigley Field turns 100 years old this year. To many neighbors and architectural historians, however, the ballpark’s centennial celebrations are an afterthought to the real action: the years-long debate over how to update the landmark park without corrupting its beloved 1914 character. At a community meeting Monday, Lakeview residents expressed concern over proposals including five new outfield signs and two video scoreboards. The plan goes to the Landmarks Commission on Thursday, but local Alderman Tom Tunney said he will not support it. In 2013 Chicago’s Landmarks Commission laid out guidelines for Wrigley upgrades, which its owners and operators maintain are necessary to help pay off structural renovations and modernize the country’s second-oldest ballpark. But opposition has been strong from wary neighbors and the owners of adjacent rooftops, who say new signage will kill their business renting out their ersatz outfield seats. The plan debuted this week differs from the blueprint approved by Landmarks last year. Repeated delays and neighborhood opposition have scuttled plans from owner Tom Ricketts to add a Starwood hotel, 40,000-square-foot gym and open-air plaza in the areas surrounding Wrigley Field. Residents of Wrigleyville now face a dilemma: call Ricketts’ bluff over moving the team to suburban Rosemont, risking the loss of an economic engine, or cave on design guidelines they say are necessary to preserve the character and livelihood of their prosperous North Side community. Unsuccessful bids for development around Wrigley Field go back years. In 2010 developers proposed a mixed-use complex wrapping around the southeast corner of Clark and Addison Streets that never happened. Last year AN contributor Edward Lifson hosted a discussion at Moe's Cantina in Chicago with Elva Rubio, Bill Savage, Dan Meis, and Jonathan Eig “to discover why design matters (even if it might not help the Cubs win the World Series).”