By Adam Harris-
(CBS) I currently live across the street from Wrigley Field and have since October of 2010.
I moved there from my cushy, northwest suburban house because I did not want to live with my parents anymore and because my dream as a kid was to live within shouting distance of Wrigley Field.
The first few months I thought everything in the neighborhood was perfect. Every building was gorgeous in its own way and added something unique to the experience of living in Wrigleyville.
But, after the honeymoon wore off, I started to see the many imperfections of the neighborhood, specifically with Wrigley Field itself, and the immediate surrounding buildings and infrastructures (or lack thereof). When Wrigley Field virgins would come to visit, I found myself making excuses about the state of the ball park and the surrounding buildings on Clark and Addison.
I was embarrassed, but that is all over now.
The renovation project of Wrigley Field accepted Sunday night restores pride in me with my neighborhood once again. This project calls for a 175-room Sheraton hotel built on Clark, a retail building in the triangle parking lot at the corner of Waveland and Clark, a two-story Captain Morgan Club where the one-story, temporary tent is now – not to mention the positive renovations to be done inside the ball park.
The current buildings directly across Clark Street from Wrigley, and the triangle parking lot next to Wrigley Field look like absolute crap. They are a complete waste of space. The way these areas look magnifies the dreary feeling of being a Cubs fan. The hotel and retail building that will be built in those spaces not only adds practicality to the neighborhood, but it modernizes an area that needs a facelift.
Also, the renovation will increase attention and property value for the group of trashy buildings on Addison Street directly across from the ballpark. Currently, there is an abandoned retail store, an auto body shop, a gross 7-11, a bad Chicago sports retail store and an abandoned parking lot on that strip. Any current success in these buildings comes from ticket scalping agencies and independent souvenir salesmen. The renovation of Wrigley and some outside buildings will motivate business in the strip on Addison. Hopefully the renovations can inspire a bulldozing session and a rebuild of that strip.
This is a five-year plan, but it will be worth the wait. Tourists spend thousands to travel to Wrigley Field, maybe just once in their lifetime, and the true beauty inside the ballpark should be reflected around the park. The renovation plan calls for street fests on Sheffield Avenue beginning two hours before weekend games, which will add a sophisticated, fun atmosphere.
Instead of drunks wandering up and down Clark Street before the game, they can do so on Sheffield in more of a controlled environment.
The ballpark needed an upgrade as well, not only for the players’ safety and comfort, but for the fans. A new clubhouse and training facilities for the players, and a new, up-to-date video scoreboard, new concessions and more walking space in the hallways for fans is all positive.
I have not been proud of my favorite ballpark or my favorite neighborhood lately, but what the Cubs plan to do causes a giant amount of optimism moving forward. Wrigleyville will look nicer, cleaner, more modern and wealthier.
The rooftop owners are the last hurdle and I hope they agree to whatever the Cubs need. Without the Cubs, the rooftops are nothing. The renovations in and around the park will have a positive effect on business, the fans and the residents of Wrigleyville.
I would know, because I am one.
Follow Adam Harris on Twitter at @AHarris670.