All eyes on Wrigley, Pepper Construction for Sunday's debut

 
 
Updated 4/4/2015 9:34 AM
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  • Pepper Construction, based in Chicago and Barrington, is working on the renovation of Wrigley Field.

    Pepper Construction, based in Chicago and Barrington, is working on the renovation of Wrigley Field. COURTESY OF PEPPER CONSTRUCTION

  • Pepper Construction, based in Chicago and Barrington, is working on the renovation of Wrigley Field.

    Pepper Construction, based in Chicago and Barrington, is working on the renovation of Wrigley Field. COURTESY OF PEPPER CONSTRUCTION

  • Jim Nissen

    Jim Nissen

  • At left, Pepper Construction in Barrington.

    At left, Pepper Construction in Barrington. COURTESY OF PEPPER CONSTRUCTION

  • Pepper Construction headquarters in Chicago.

    Pepper Construction headquarters in Chicago. COURTESY OF PEPPER CONSTRUCTION

  • Richard Pepper

    Richard Pepper

  • Dave Pepper

    Dave Pepper

  • Construction continued on renovations to Wrigley Field Thursday including the installation of a Jumbotron above the left field bleachers, background, and a Budweiser sign in right field.

    Construction continued on renovations to Wrigley Field Thursday including the installation of a Jumbotron above the left field bleachers, background, and a Budweiser sign in right field.

Three generations of the Pepper family of Barrington have headed Pepper Construction Group -- and they've all been Chicago Cubs fans.

Founder Stanley F. Pepper, who has since passed away, his son, Richard, and grandson and Chairman Dave Pepper, along with other family members, have owned a skybox at Wrigley Field ever since skyboxes existed.

So it was no surprise that Pepper Construction accepted the centennial project, known as The 1060 Project, to restore and expand the iconic Wrigley Field through 2018.

The company's work will be on display at the Cubs' home opener Sunday against the St. Louis Cardinals, with many fans as fascinated about the ballpark's progress as they are about the game. With work delayed by everything from weather to the city of Chicago approval process, the ballpark will open without left- and right-field bleachers and with plenty of construction equipment on site. But the left-field video screen went up this week, bleachers are promised by summer and the statue of Cubs legend Ernie Banks will be back in place at the corner of Sheffield and Addison.

While Pepper Construction executives referred all questions about details of the 1060 Project to the Cubs, it has been different than other projects because "there are so many more people interested in it," said Pepper Executive Vice President Jim Nissen.

"We're also working on restoring the White House in Barrington, and that's a good analogy," Nissen said, referring to the project to develop a cultural and community center from an 1898 former home in downtown Barrington. "It's an old house that needs restoration and there are all kinds of people who are interested in it."

Besides the ongoing Barrington White House, Pepper Construction in its 88-year history has built many landmarks around the suburbs, including hospitals, commercial buildings, schools and more.

Among them: Deer Park Town Center and Nordstrom at Woodfield Shopping Center and Old Orchard Shopping Center; corporate headquarters for Tellabs in Naperville, Kraft in Northfield and Grainger in Lake Forest; hospitals such as Northwestern Memorial's Outpatient Pavilion in Chicago, Advocate Condell's West Tower addition in Libertyville and Central DuPage's bed tower addition in Winfield; New Residence Hall and the Yordon Academic & Athletic Performance Center at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, the Woodfield Corporate Center in Schaumburg, the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines and more.

"They are all important to that owner," said Nissen. "There's no avoiding a lot of stress on each project because it's an important part for them."

While all eyes remain on Wrigley, some changes might not immediately be seen by the typical baseball fan during the course of this project. The company is using 3-D laser scanning and other methods to plan and build structural upgrades, improve the player facilities, create new fan amenities, install video boards, expand concessions, add new and improved restrooms and more.

"Our attraction to Pepper was their roots as a Chicagoland business and their reputation with historic renovation projects," Chicago Cubs spokesman Julian Green said in an email.

Pepper Construction was founded in 1927 by Stanley F. Pepper. He originally worked for Marshall Field in the cabinet shop and Field had suggested Pepper start his own company so work could be outsourced to him. The carpentry shop remained in the Marshall Field's store until it was sold to Macy's, Nissen said.

"That was the oldest link we had, but now it's Macy's and that's gone," Nissen said.

Pepper Construction has since grown to 1,000 workers in offices in Chicago and Barrington as well as in Indiana, Ohio and Texas.

The company is involved in hundreds of projects each year across the nation, Nissen said.

"We try to be diversified in the buildings that we do," Nissen said. "But we've worked on every type of building you can think of."

The company intends to remain family owned and likely will expand its workforce this year due to demand, Nissen said.

More new projects in the area this year include a 41-story apartment and retail center at Lake Street and Michigan Avenue in Chicago; an addition to Highland Park Hospital; a new science building at Lake Forest College; a new Bright Horizons day care building in Schaumburg; renovations and remodeling to parts of New Trier High School in Winnetka and Harper College in Palatine and others.

"We're proud of the fact that we don't broker out all of our work," Nissen said. "We do a significant amount of it ourselves and we want to do all of it. That's why we intend to grow that part of our business."

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