WRIGLEYVILLE — Few neighborhoods have enjoyed as substantial of a post-recession turnaround as Wrigleyville.
While the World Series success of the Chicago Cubs could certainly play a part, developers are surging ahead on long-delayed plans, shedding the woes of foreclosures and bankruptcy that plagued them.
The latest to break ground is the Holiday Jones hotel going up at 3469-75 N. Clark St. Work began in late 2016 — as the Cubs clinched their first World Series championship in 108 years — and should take 1½ years.
Since news of the boutique hotel broke in May, the company has chosen a name for the project: The Wheelhouse Hotel.
Developers wanted a name that "had a nod toward baseball, but wasn't too baseball-y," company manager Robert Baum said. "We thought that got across our idea of a place where our guests would feel comfortable with just a minor nod toward the sporting life."
The Wheelhouse Hotel — referring to the part of a batter's strike zone most likely to produce a home run — will be erected one block south of Wrigley Field, on the main strip of Clark Street near Clark Street Sports, Bar Celona and Nola Pub.
The project is expected to take about 1½ years to complete. First, Holiday Jones will renovate the already constructed, traditional building at 3473-75 N. Clark St. that was nearly complete when investors were slammed with foreclosures in 2013.
That existing building, with 21 hotel rooms and a ground-level retail space, will likely open in late spring or early summer, Baum said.
The Wheelhouse Hotel will be built in two phases, starting with renovations on the former Wrigley Hotel. Developers expect to open the northern half of the site mid-2017. [Provided/Holiday Jones]
The new construction will add another 32 rooms and a second retail space and should open in spring 2018 — around the same time as Hotel Zachary up the street. That half of the hotel will have a "warehouse, modern decor" that will complement the brick side, Baum said.
"That's what we've been paying attention to: The preservation of the space and yet how to modernize it," Baum said. "We want to embrace the industrial heritage of it, but brighten it up."
Developers are still working on inking deals for the two retail spaces, but Baum said the hope is to add a restaurant in the northern half of the hotel that would serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Below, a renovated basement would be ideal for a bar or lounge with a speakeasy vibe that would be "fun and elegant, but casual," Baum said.
The Wheelhouse could face some stiff competition at Clark and Addison. Developer Hickory Street Capital — which shares the same ownership as the Cubs — began work last year on Hotel Zachary, a massive 175-room luxury hotel that will also house Big Star, Smoke Daddy BBQ and a McDonald's.
The site of the future Wheelhouse Hotel. [Provided/Triangle Neighbors]
But Baum said he doesn't see Hotel Zachary as competition, particularly with such a need for hotels in Lakeview. The Wheelhouse will also offer larger rooms to accommodate groups of up to six people, a model Holiday Jones is familiar with thanks to its two Chicago hostels.
"There are so many events and people in such a dense area," Baum said. "It's a great space for both [Wrigleyville hotels] to co-exist."
Some will also include kitchenettes for longer stays — a potential attraction for the Airbnb crowd, Baum said.
Reading about expensive Airbnb accommodations during the World Series "just helped further make it clear to us that there's a need for temporary housing in this area," Baum said. "No doubt."
The neighborhood has craved more hotels for a decade, as the 44th Ward Master Plan found in 2006 that neighbors wanted more hotels or bed-and-breakfasts nearly as much as they sought more fine dining, gourmet food and art galleries.
But proposals in years past have floundered. The Addison & Clark project ditched its hotel idea after the Cubs announced their own, and Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) nixed plans for an eight-story LGBTQ-focused hotel in Boystown in 2013.
The property Holiday Jones acquired last year has been tapped as a hotel site since 2007, but was deserted amid financial strife.
Originally, owner Tim Collins combined the two lots at 3473 and 3475 N. Clark St. in 2008, city records show. He planned to convert the structure into an 18-room hotel with retail on the ground floor, estimating it would cost $5 million.
In 2011, Collins sought to expand to 3469 N. Clark St. and grow to 42 rooms, with a restaurant on the ground level. But he was soon hit with two foreclosure lawsuits seeking a combined $3.9 million.
The project changed hands with construction 90 percent complete in 2013 but stalled due to the outstanding loans. Four Corners Tavern Group, which owns Schoolyard Tavern, fought Collins for the property in court, then put it on the block in 2015.
Holiday Jones landed the sale and pitched its plan for a 53-room boutique hotel to neighbors in May.
The Hotel Zachary/Park at Wrigley Field is being developed by an entity controlled by a trust established for the benefit of the family of Joe Ricketts, owner and CEO of DNAinfo. Joe Ricketts has no direct involvement in the management of the hotel development project.
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