The highly-touted Wrigleyville West development at the Chicago Cubs spring training complex will likely start out small, Mesa officials said as they released the project’s first site plan.
In fact, the conceptual plans don’t indicate a single building of what is envisioned as an entertainment district with specialty shops.
As elected officials got their first look at the plan Monday, Mesa Councilwoman Dina Higgins pressed city officials on how much of the district would be in place when the complex opens in 2013.
Mayor Scott Smith responded the city’s deal with the Cubs encourages the team to move quickly if they want the first option to continue developing prime real estate.
“There will be a penalty, and the penalty will be you lose the right to buy the land,” Mayor Scott Smith said.
Plans show a plaza at the stadium’s entrance and soccer fields where the team will build the privately funded Wrigleyville. The Cubs are negotiating with potential tenants and can construct buildings quickly even if specifics aren’t in place yet, Smith said. The district footprint is modest but could include substantial development if buildings go vertical, he said.
“It is small but it’s very high-density,” Smith said. “The idea is to attract people to a very small urban place.”
The stadium will sit roughly in the middle of the mile-wide site on Eighth Street that spans from Dobson Road to the Loop 101. Practice fields will flank the stadium’s west side. Wrigleyville is situated immediately to the east and a revamped Riverview Park will link the entertainment district to Dobson.
A broad path — or possibly a road — will serve as a gateway as patrons walk from Dobson to the stadium.
The area set aside for Wrigleyville will initially be developed as grass field on about 26 acres. The path eventually will be lined with shops that Smith envisions as something resembling the Kierland Commons shopping center or Santan Village in Gilbert.
The Cubs will have immediate access to 3 acres for commercial development, City Manager Chris Brady said. After that’s developed, the team has options on another 3 acres. Eventually, the entire 26 acres could be developed.
Mesa will give the Cubs the first option to develop property if it meets deadlines, but the specifics are under negotiation. The sides plan to finalize three agreements in deal the City Council will vote on Sept. 26. The deals cover the site’s development, facility use and options for selling property to the team.
The conceptual plans also include a grander Riverview Park. Ideas include a tower visible from nearby freeways to boost the area’s profile, water features, play areas and artistic shading structures.
The city plans to meet with neighboring residents to get input on the regional park, said Marc Heirshberg, the parks, recreation and commercial facilities director.
The city has $15 million for the park and infrastructure — but Brady acknowledged the city doesn’t know what the new park will cost. Smith said the city needs to think big with the park and then look to the price tag. Some features might have to be built in phases, he said.
Councilman Scott Somers said he supported the compact entertainment district and the conceptual ideas for the park. But he wanted to know more about the cost.
“I like the vision,” he said. “Show me the money.”
Mesa plans to break ground late this year or in early 2012. The complex should open in 2013 but may not be ready for spring training until 2014.
Also this week, Mesa released a few new details on how its agreement with the Cubs is taking shape approaching the Sept. 26 timeline to finalize the deal. Some key elements include:
• The complex will span 96 acres at the southeast corner of the Loop 101 and Loop 202 freeways.
• The stadium will include 15,000 seats, with the ability to add 5,000 berm seats.
• The site will include temporary living quarters for 100 players.
• The Cubs have a right to use the facilities during spring training, but the city controls scheduling and maintenance the rest of the year.
• The site will include at least 2,500 parking spaces.
• The city’s cost is capped at $99 million, with $84 million for baseball-related development and $15 million for infrastructure and rebuilding Riverview Park.
• Mesa will own the land and facilities, and the Cubs will have options to buy land for Wrigleyville.
• Existing softball fields will be kept in place as Mesa considers redevelopment proposals including revised plans for the Waveyard water park. The city wants some kind of entertainment/recreational venue on that site’s 26 acres.
• The City Council will vote on a final agreement Sept. 26.
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