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“Addison Park on Clark” Proposal Puts Improv Olympic in Danger

At a public meeting held Tuesday night in Lakeview, Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) helped developers and city planners unveil a revised edition of the Addison Park on Clark project summary that will go before the Chicago Plan Commission for approval within the next two months. If the plan is approved, it will cause the businesses currently occupying the location, such as iO (formerly Improv Olympic), to shut down.

Addison Park on Clark is a mixed-use development that will consist of a hotel, retail outlets and apartments located along the south side of Addison Street, from Sheffield west to Clark Street and extending south on Clark about a block.

Although the developers have made concessions with regard to the size and height of the complex since the project was first introduced two years ago, community members are upset about the fact that iO, along with other businesses in the area such as the Goose Island Wrigleyville Brewpub, are going to be demolished when construction on the new complex begins.

“iO is home to me. It’s the reason I moved to Chicago over two years ago from D.C. It brings community members together and emphasizes the importance of working in a group,” said Joe Russell, an iO student. He also noted that the building has a strong historic significance.

“I can’t imagine this area of town without it, and I don’t think developers understand what a big part of the community it truly has become,” he said.

Charna Halpern, founder and director of iO, says she was not notified that her landlord sold the property to developers until it was too late for her to find another suitable place for it.

Her lease is supposed to end in 2022; however, Tunney states that demolition could begin a year from now if the project meets approval by the plan commission.

“It’s sad the government doesn’t understand Wrigleyville is much more than just the Cubs,” Halpern said. “It’s sad as a homeowner and businesswoman, because I’m a constituent in this community,” she continued.

Tunney responded by saying that Halpern has been on notice for two years, and that she should have been looking for another place in which to hold iO classes and performances.

Other complaints addressed at the meeting from community members revolved around the issue of what type of retailers are going to lease space in the complex.

Although none of the retail spaces have been filled yet, Tunney mentioned that both Best Buy and Dominick’s are considering leasing space in the building. He said that the final retailers that move in depend heavily on the market at the time.

Constituents are also worried about the appearance of the building itself, since it is a large structure that stands at 91 feet at the tallest portion. They say the building will set a precedent in the area for high-rise structures.

“I do worry about precedent,” Tunney said. “This is where density belongs in an urban environment. The area is supposed to be dense.” Tunney concluded the meeting by reiterating his reasons for supporting the project.

“This has reached community support, regardless of how that is quantified,” he said. “I see this is a positive development because parts of this site have long been dormant. The addition of a hotel and health center will benefit the community, and we’ve seen more health-related facilities in all areas.”

In response to complaints about the façade of the building, Tunney said, “The balance of quality architecture tries to minimize the scale.” The exterior of the building will be a mixture of glass and masonry; developers say the use of different building materials will help the structure to look less industrial.

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