If you’d told me a couple weeks ago that I’d soon be writing a headline including the words “Wrigley Renovation,” “Rooftops,” and “Lawsuit,” I would have groaned audibly and feared the worst.
In this instance, we’re not at “the worst,” because the referenced lawsuit actually has nothing to do with the rooftops. Of course, lawsuits are rarely a good thing.
The owner of some apartments on the west side of the ballpark, west of where the proposed hotel will be built, has filed suit against the City of Chicago and the entities that are behind the development (not the Cubs ballclub, itself, but the various LLCs that are involved in the renovation/development project – for all practical purposes, and as far as I know, we’re talking about the owners of the Cubs).
The suit, which you can read here (via Crain’s), alleges that the City did not have authority to pass the ordinance permitting the hotel construction both on constitutional grounds and because the original planned development for that site had expired at the time of the ordinance. The plaintiff, Thomas Romano, seeks an injunction stopping construction of the hotel (construction hasn’t yet started), and damages in excess of $6 million (that appears to be a perfunctory ask, given that nothing has actually happened yet).
*OBLIGATORY I AM NOT A LAWYER COMMENT* While I am no longer a practicing attorney, my uneducated look at the complaint suggests that what we have here is a pretty simple case of a business that fears it will be harmed by something coming down the pipeline, and, having not succeeded in stopping said thing, is now turning to the last refuge of the courts. That is not a comment on the merits of the complaint (the constitutional claim seems thin, but I can’t speak to the planned development expiration claim), or a direct suggestion that the lawsuit is a mere attempt to get the Cubs/City to throw the plaintiff a little money to get him to go away. In the end, however, if the best argument is that the Ricketts Family/the City didn’t follow the proper procedure in getting this particular development approved, the solution will be … following the proper procedure. In other words, with plenty of time to get the hotel construction going, I have a hard time seeing this particular suit causing any significant problems (though it will undoubtedly be a pain in the ass, as most litigation is). The Ricketts Family owns the property, and the City has said they can do with it what they want.
A Cubs spokesman said the organization is reviewing the lawsuit, but has no comment at this time.
The news on the rooftops side of things might be slightly more positive. Speaking with Crain’s Greg Hinz, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he still believes the Cubs and the rooftops will figure out something that works, since it is in everyone’s self-interest to get a deal done. Recall, the Cubs refuse to begin the renovation process in earnest until they know that the grim specter of a lawsuit from the rooftops is not hanging over their heads. On that item, the Mayor said encouragingly that, despite the appearance that the two sides have dug in and are not currently speaking, there actually are talks ongoing between the Cubs and the rooftops.
Talks, alone, are encouraging at this point, but it’s even more encouraging that the Mayor – who recently helped push positive resolutions for the Cubs on smaller outstanding issues – seems to be looped into the talks. He’s got as much interest as anyone in getting the (privately-funded) renovation underway, and I’d think his efforts to push, should he be inclined to do so, would help things along.