NORTH CENTER — The Chicago Cubs' operation of a controversial new remote parking lot in North Center has hit a snag after the city's Law Department determined the team needs to obtain a special-use permit for the lot.
The lot at 3900 N. Rockwell St. is owned by Basic Wire and Cable. The Cubs are leasing it through 2018 for parking during night and weekend games, as well as concerts.
Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) contended that the property's zoning only allowed for parking as an "accessory" to Basic Wire and Cable's associated business — essentially meaning use by the company's employees. Leasing the lot to a separate entity, like the Cubs, for public use wouldn't be allowed, he said.
Pawar said he was informed shortly before the Easter holiday that the Law Department agreed with his interpretation.
The Cubs are now caught between stipulations of the Neighborhood Protection ordinance — crafted to draw traffic away from Wrigleyville in exchange for the right to hold additional night games — and permit requirements.
"Our goal is to be in full and complete compliance with that ordinance," which calls for the Cubs to operate a free remote parking lot with a minimum of 1,000 spaces, Julian Green, Cubs spokesman, told DNAinfo Chicago via email.
"At the same time, we are working to get our application for a special-use permit approved," he said.
In the past, the Cubs offered remote parking at DeVry University, which held 500 cars and cost users $6 to park.
The new lot stirred up a storm of protest from neighbors, who worried that it could attract rowdy fans and endanger children, given the influx of 1,000 extra cars near Revere Park and the Neighborhood Boys & Girls Club.
The next step is for the Cubs to file the appropriate paperwork with the Zoning Board of Appeals, which Green said the team aimed to do by May.
Getting on the board's hearing agenda could take another month or two, Pawar said.
In the meantime, the Cubs will be allowed to use the lot while the zoning board's decision is pending, Green said.
"We have operated the lot at Rockwell with no problems or issues since the season began and will continue to work with the alderman and community to address any concerns," he said.
For his part, Pawar reiterated his intention to oppose the permit.
"My position's unchanged," he said. "I'm going to stick with the community."
The Cubs and Wrigley Field are 95 percent owned by a trust established for the benefit of the family of Joe Ricketts, owner and CEO of DNAinfo.com. Joe Ricketts has no direct involvement in the management of the iconic team.