The exterior of the coming-soon Wrigleyville Hotel (John Lendman for RedEye)
From a controversial Hyatt Hotel/business complex to a Cubs-themed boutique inn, talk of hotels moving in to Wrigleyville’s main Clark Street artery was on the tip of local’s tongues all last summer.
But the latter project, tentatively (and boldly) called the Wrigleyville Hotel may actually open in the middle of the 2011 Cubs season, developers say.
Locals seem indifferent as the building at Clark Street and Cornelia Avenue has been under construction for more than two years now, with the local chamber of commerce citing frequent changes in the hotel’s design.
What we do know is that the five-story, 40- to 42-room hotel will feature a large bar and restaurant off its Clark Street entrance, an outdoor cafe, rooftop bar patio and be themed around Wrigley Field’s iconic aesthetics, according to developers.
And while local businesses have been elated with the idea of keeping Cubs fans populating Wrigleyville streets, the process had been sluggish at best, said Gus Issacson of the Central Lakeview Merchants Association.
“From the outside it’s gorgeous, but it has been a process,” Issacson said. “But there’s definitely a need for lodging in the neighborhood.”
Issacson says all the local entertainment from street festivals, concerts and special events such as November’s Northwestern vs. Illinois football game at Wrigley Field drives local business, and he laments the missed opportunities when folks leave Wrigleyville to stay in hotels downtown.
However, some locals are concerned that new hotels in the area will also bring new traffic and congestion. And with the owner of Casey Moran’s building a new bar and restaurant a few doors north on Clark Street, the area is seeing a lot of scaffolding and construction.
From the chamber’s perspective though, that’s definitely not a bad thing.
“It’s welcome because there’s not a lot of development going on here and in central Lakeview,” Issacson said. “The fortunate situation we’re talking about is lots of people and lots of business [creating congestion], and there are so many areas and other chambers … that don’t have construction at all.”
Sheldon Schwartz, owner of clothing shop Strange Cargo across the street from construction on Clark Street, said he’s looking forward to more tourists staying awhile.
“Hopefully they will shop around here instead of going to Michigan Avenue,” Schwartz said. “All I see is a plus.”
He also said the location of the hotel is perfect for the demographic of young residents in the neighborhood.
“It’ll be good for a lot of parents that have twentysomethings here,” Schwartz said. “They’ll have a place to stay [when they visit].”
But if you ask some locals in the area, they’ll tell you they had no idea a hotel was even in the works for Clark Street, a stone’s throw away from the Friendly Confines.
“I didn’t know that’s what that [construction] was,” said Adam Procailo, 30, who added when he has family and friends visit him in Chicago, they usually stay in hotels downtown.
“It should help as long as prices aren’t too ridiculous,” Procailo said
Wrigleyville resident Jessie Chappe, 24, said she didn’t know there was a hotel being constructed, nor could she think of any hotels close to Wrigley Field.
The closest hotels are the Old Chicago Inn, a bed and breakfast on Sheffield and Belmont avenues and the City Suites Hotel on Belmont and Wilton avenues near the Belmont “L” stop.
“It’ll add to congestion, but if it’s good for tourists it’ll be worth it,” Chappe said.
Stacee Wendling, a Wrigleyville resident and bartender, said that with the Wrigleyville Hotel coming in and possibly a larger Hyatt, it could be a double-edged sword that benefits businesses but takes away from Wrigleyville’s neighborhood feel.
“It’ll be a positive thing for the people coming into the area for a game and making a weekend of it [staying at the hotels],” said Wendling, 25. “But it’s just going to become more congested. … And the train station’s right there to take you to downtown hotels.”