May 27th, 2016
Wrigley - Be The Best You, You Can Be
While the Cubs are killing it on the field these days, they’re also making moves outside the stadium. And we’re not talking about trades. Most recently, the Cubs published a letter giving an update on realizing “The Plaza” and the struggle they’ve had in turning it into the reality they want. They called on community support for their plan, and it didn’t go so well. Alderman Tunney and the neighborhood groups in the area don’t see eye to eye with the Cubs. They contend that the Cubs actions are a power play and one that would have major impacts on neighborhood security. Tunney countered with a proposal that would limit the license in an attempt to address safety concerns.
Safety is indeed important. And so is the economic vibrancy of the community. So here’s our take.
Since we’ve been on the block, we’ve watched the economic situation and the neighborhood’s safety deteriorate. When we opened in 2008, a few things were different around here. Hell, we even had a different name. But more so, the area itself was different. What existed on the block was a mix of restaurants, bars, comedy, and banks. But now, gone is Improv Olympics. Gone are the banks. Gone are the restaurants. Today, the strip is dominated by just one thing: sports bars. Don’t get us wrong, sports will always be a central part of Wrigleyville, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. But the continued excessive development on the strip took place unfettered. Not an eyelash was blinked as one huge bar after another was erected, creating a street devoid of economic diversity.
We’re pretty sure we’ve got a good vantage point to understand what’s taken place. We’re open seven days a week as much of the rest of the street shuts its doors, so we see the ghost town that Wrigley has become. We’re also open well into the morning and regularly harbor the garbage that the block ushers out the door and into the community. It smells, it’s ugly, and it has done little for either safety or long term economic prosperity. The feast or famine model is a brutal existence.
We don’t blame the bars, they’re just doing their best to exist. And we don’t think the Plaza is the be all end all solution. But we categorically reject the notion that the Cubs' license is being rejected because of safety concerns. We’ve watched the neighborhood suffer, and we think it’s time for something new.
If the Cubs want to bring year-round varied economic output to the area and are willing and excited to invest in the community, we welcome the change. But we don’t give them a blank check. We’d love to see partnerships made with local bar, hotel and restaurant groups and if that happens, we’d fully support the licenses they’re pursuing. Sure, the license may be one of a kind, but if it’s done with local operators, selling products made in Chicago then it’s the kind of innovative thinking that will help bring a positive change to the neighborhood.
The Dimo’s Pizza Crew