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Full Speed Ahead For Wrigleyville's Construction Activity

Another nail in the coffin of the Wrigleyville of old was hammered home Monday with the rising of a single steel beam. The topping out of Hotel Zachary was another step forward in the morphing of an entertainment wasteland around a ballpark into a modern neighborhood with living and entertainment options for longtime residents, baseball fans and tourists.

The top beam for the Hotel Zachary is lifted into place on May 15, 2017.

The Wrigleyville area has one of the highest concentrations of construction in Chicago, and as real estate executives and investors gathered at the Park at Wrigley to watch the top beam raised to the Hotel Zachary's tallest point, the densely populated neighborhood is entering its home stretch and delivering a new variety of residential, hospitality and retail options.

Four major developments have either been completed or are under construction, steps away from the home of the defending World Series champions.

The Park at Wrigley

Two of these developments sandwich Wrigley Field. The Park at Wrigley, which opened at Clark Street and Waveland Avenue just before the Cubs' home opener last month, is home to a six-story mixed-use building that is primarily home to the ballclub's front office operations. It also houses a Starbucks Reserve store, a two-story Cubs gift shop, a World Series trophy room, an in-progress brewpub from Goose Island Beer Co. and Four Corners Tavern Group, and a jewelry store from Josten's. The project is connected to Wrigley Field via an adjacent triangle park that will host films during the summer and other entertainment.

The Cubs also have plans to build a two-story Wrigley Field annex at the corner of Addison and Sheffield that will be completed in 2020. This annex will include retail and restaurant space and a new ticket office.

Hickory Street Capital president Crane Kenney

The Cubs' long renovations to Wrigley Field is the foundation for the spike in construction activity. Hickory Street Capital president Crane Kenney said the Hotel Zachary and the Wrigley renovations are an $800M investment in the Wrigleyville area by the Cubs owners, the Ricketts family, and fulfill the Rickettses' commitment to being good neighbors and community partners. Kenney thanked residents and business owners for their patience and support.

"We know our construction has created headaches for our neighbors," Kenney said.

The Hotel Zachary, with Wrigley Field in the background

The seven-story Hotel Zachary, which is scheduled to open in time for the Cubs' 2018 home opener, is a seven-story, 175-room boutique hotel named after Zachary Taylor Davis, the architect who designed Wrigley Field. The hotel will house a Wintrust Bank and dining options including a Big Star tacos from One Off Hospitality, restaurants from Matthias Merges’ Folk Art Restaurant Group (Yusho, Billy Sunday) and Four Star Restaurant Group (Dunlay’s, Smoke Daddy, Fifty-50). McDonald's, which was demolished to make way for the Zachary's construction, will reopen in the hotel. 

Hickory Street Capital vice president Eric Nordness said the warm winter in Chicago meant construction crews from Walsh Construction used fewer weather contingency days, but the construction timetable was not significantly expedited. Nordness believes the Zachary's location and its restaurant partnerships will position it for immediate success. There is very little hotel product north of North Avenue, especially boutique hotel inventory. And Wrigleyville, with its dense population base, is ideally situated for Hickory Street’s restaurant partners to cater to the crowds before, during and after baseball season.

Addison and Clark under construction and still on target for an August 2018 delivery.

Across Addison Street, M&R Development and Bucksbaum Retail Properties' progress on Addison and Clark, a mixed-use development featuring 148 apartments and 150K SF of retail, is on target for an August 2018 delivery. Addison and Clark is an interesting development because it is bringing modern apartments and retail to a submarket where very little new multifamily or retail construction can be found.

But M&R president Tony Rossi Sr. is confident that Addison and Clark's residential segment can command rents at or near downtown rates. He said the nearby Halsted Flats is renting at around $3/SF and he believes Addison and Clark's location can help it perform as strongly.

But Bucksbaum Retail Properties CEO John Bucksbaum said it would be wrong to believe there will be interest from retailers and customers just because the building is across from the Friendly Confines. Bucksbaum still has to market the project to out-of-state retailers who may not know what is happening in Chicago. So far the results have been promising — Bucksbaum has landed Mexican movie theater chain Cinemex, California-based bowling alley chain Lucky Strike and Shake Shack.

M&R Development senior partner Tom Moran; Congressman Mike Quigley; M&R Development president Tony Rossi Sr.; Mayor Rahm Emanuel; Bucksbaum Retail Properties CEO John Bucksbaum; Bucksbaum Retail Properties president Jason Olt and Alderman Tom Tunney (44th)

Then there is the mix of demographics near the ballpark to consider. Bucksbaum said there are three types of retail customers in the Clark/Addison epicenter: the over 3.5 million people who visit Wrigley Field during baseball season; the thousands of people who visit the area as a nightlife destination year-round; and the 100,000 people who live within a mile of the ballpark. Bucksbaum said Addison and Clark's retail programming needs to cater to more than one of these demographics. The movie theater may not work with balllpark visitors, but it will work with residents and nightlife people. Bucksbaum said Lucky Strike will include a pronounced music component geared toward ballpark visitors looking to do something before and after a game, and the nightlife crowd.

Rossi, who has been working to make Addison and Clark a reality since 2008, said developing relationships with community groups and the Cubs has proven fruitful. Addison and Clark had more moving parts involved, including a hotel component, when Rossi originally approached Ald. Tom Tunney to seek his approval. Tunney gave him a list of 21 community groups in the neighborhood, and he asked Rossi to return to him when he had the support of a majority of them. Rossi said he and other M&R reps still meet with the Triangle Neighbors Association to provide updates on construction and answer questions.

M&R and Bucksbaum have also developed a solid rapport with the Cubs so their respective construction timetables move forward with as little interruption to the neighborhood as possible. The last major challenge will be coordinating with the city to restore Addison and Clark streets just before Addison and Clark opens. Hickory Street will have similar challenges with the Hotel Zachary's streetscape.