Thursday, December 2, 2021

City to Hold Public Presentation on 12/16 for Chicago Casino Proposals

We've been eating up all the coverage of the potential Chicago casino since there is a pretty chance it's going to be in our neck of the woods.  With that said, it looks like the public meetings are going to be starting soon (via Chicago.gov):

Public Presentations

The bidders of the five Chicago casino proposals will give public presentations on December 16, 2021.

This event will be held from 1pm to 8pm at the Isadore and Sadie Dorin Theater at UIC (725 W Roosevelt Rd, Chicago, IL, 60608) and will be held in person as well as livestreamed.

If you are interested in attending this event in person, please fill out this form. Attendance will be limited due to Covid, more details to follow.

Not sure if this is a forum for Q&A, but we would hope so.  A 7 hour meeting is pretty intense for the common Joe, so curious to see what comes of this.

(Hat tip:  PB!)

Monday, November 29, 2021

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Sun-Times: Two Sloop Locations Frontrunners for Downtown Chicago Casino

More chatter on the casino and the money looks to be on two Sloop sights (via Sun-Times):

some insiders believe the casino competition boils down to Neil Bluhm versus Neil Bluhm.

The head of Chicago-based Rush Street Gaming and owner of the lucrative Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, Bluhm is behind two proposals, either of which could benefit from few complications and a quick start. With the firm Related Midwest, Bluhm wants a casino on vacant acreage in the development site known as The 78, running southwest from Roosevelt and Clark.

It’s close to downtown, and the land is shovel-ready. But Bluhm has hedged his bets, offering on his own a casino plan for the existing Lakeside Center at McCormick Place, the oldest building at the convention complex and the one least utilized. It’s got parking already there and vast floors ready for slots and table games.

We're pretty cold on the 78 location as it would dramatically change the profile of the Sloop as this land is poised to become a critical, central component of the neighborhood.  

That said, the renderings of the 78 casino does look pretty striking and it has a crazy high tower:

For anyone looking for architectural flourishes, the biggest offering is at The 78. The plan includes a 1,000-foot observation tower—its rendering makes it look like a giant circular staircase. It’s almost as tall as 875 North Michigan, the former John Hancock Center.

As part of its entertainment component, the plan promises to re-create Mister Kelly’s, the storied Rush Street nightclub that was a stopover for musicians and comedians traveling from coast to coast. It closed in 1975.


 

Monday, November 15, 2021

Xpot at Roosevelt Collection Simply Looks Amazing and Out of this World

Xpot in Roosevelt Collection has been open for a couple weeks now and the yelp reviews and pictures seem spectacular.  We haven't been yet, but just take a look at some of these instagram posts:


Wow - just wow!  Can't wait to try this place out...has anyone been yet?

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

4 out of the 5 Casino Location Proposals In or Close to the Sloop

Last week we posted about 5 casino sites that were proposed for the city and numerous ones in the Sloop. Well it ends up that 4 of the 5 are in the neighborhood!  We're not huge bettors, but those seem like pretty good odds that there is going to be a casino in the neighborhood.  The question now is where?

The four locations in (or very close) to the Sloop are:

  • Bally’s Chicago — McCormick Place Truck Marshaling Yard
  • Hard Rock at the One Central Development (west of Solder Field)
  • Rivers Chicago at McCormick
  • Rivers 78 Gaming
Each of these proposals have many pros/cons.  First off, the Bally's proposal is south of what we would consider the Sloop, but it's still pretty close.  Out of these 4 proposals, we would imagine our neighborhood would be most supportive of this one since it's just outside our boundaries.  According to the Tribune, the alderman representing this ward has been pretty adamant that she doesn't support this location - so we will see if that's a deal breaker.

While One Central is the development that won't go away and a casino at this location probably gives it a shot in the arm...we still think it's a long shot (and years away from ever potentially happening).  

Rivers Chicago at McCormick
So that leaves us with the Rivers proposals.  In our opinion, the Rivers Chicago at McCormick is very interesting on many fronts.  The Tribune explains it as:
The proposal to redevelop Lakeside Center — formerly the East Building — at McCormick Place would have a number of built-in advantages, according to Scott Goodman, founding principal of Chicago-based Farpoint Development.

“We think this is a perfect adjunct to what’s already there,” Goodman said. “Things are already in place, not least of which is the structure, but also other infrastructure, such as parking and access, and ways for people to get there.”

The seldom-used, 50-year-old Lakeside Center has 583,000 square feet of exhibit space, but is dwarfed by the newer McCormick Place West Building, which opened in 2007. It is adjacent to an abundance of hotel rooms, has lakefront vistas, is designed for high-traffic events and in a post-COVID-19 world, could help draw conventions and conventioneers to roll the dice on Chicago, Goodman said.

The plan would create casino floor up to 300,000 square feet, with the rest of the exhibit floor filled with food and beverage options, as well as entertainment spaces, Goodman said. The redevelopment would also address maintenance issues and capital improvement needs that have been “compiling” at the building, he said.

The adaptive reuse of an existing convention hall may have one significant advantage over competing proposals with new buildings — an expedited timeline.

It's a pretty iconic location right on the lake, it's a re-use of an underutilized building and it's connected to McCormick Place (which some say is a problem).  Those are pretty big assets from our vantage point.

Rivers 78
The 78 certainly has the space and nice river location for a casino, but in our opinion this spot would be a tough pill to swallow for the Sloop.  This is in the heart of the Sloop and would change they dynamics of the neighborhood in a major way.  Sure the 78 was going to do that regardless, but add a casino and we just don't know...seems like a bad move.

Details are pretty limited on this proposal, but the developer Related Midwest did say:
Related Midwest President Curt Bailey offered few details but plenty of enthusiasm about the plan, saying it “would work extremely well and probably produce the highest-income casino in the city of Chicago because of the location.”

Of course that's what he was going to stay, but might have some truth.  It is a good location.

This will be interesting to monitor.  Certainly the site at the Chicago Tribune Publishing Center is a good location, but in our opinion not as good as some of the Sloop spots.  

 

Monday, November 8, 2021

Spanglish Has Eviction Sign on Door and Looks to be Closed as Retail Space is For Lease

 It looks like Spanglish (555 S. State) might be closed and not reopening:

There’s an eviction notice on the window of Spanglish Mexican Kitchen (State St. between Congress and Harrison).

Regarding the reopening, Mr. South Loop posted that the retail space is up for lease, so all sign point to the being the end of Spanglish (at least at this location).

We liked Spanglish, but it was never a go-to taco spot for us.  For those who are curious, Spanglish opened back in 2013, so has had a nice 8 year run.

(Hat tip:  AB!)

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

New Brunch Spot - The Southern Chicago - Signs Lease at 2000 S. Wabash

 Looks like the southern part of the Sloop is getting a new brunch spot:

The stretch of Wabash south of 18th has been pretty barren for awhile.  For long time Sloopers you may remember Cuatro and Room 21 brought some energy, but those both closed over 10 years ago - wow!  

Who remembers The Shrine on Wabash?  That hosted some big names and provided a trendy hip-hope vibe to Wabash.  That also closed about 5 years ago.

Anyway - interested to try out The Southern and welcome to the Sloop.

Monday, November 1, 2021

5 Sites Proposed for Casino in Chicago, Including Numerous Locations Close to the Sloop

It looks like a Casino in (or very close) to the Sloop is a good bet (via Chicago Tribune):

Developers submitted five proposals to operate casinos in Chicago, bringing the city one step closer to a potential big revenue boost and achieving a goal that has eluded local mayors for decades.

Still, the project will have to clear major hurdles in the coming months as Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration sorts through the proposals and picks a winner. It’s not clear where all of the proposed gambling venues would go but experts generally believe a new casino should be in or near downtown.

  • Bally’s Corporation submitted proposals for two sites and would self-manage the facility, according to the city.
  • HR Chicago submitted a proposal for a single site that would be managed by Hard Rock International, according to the city.
  • Rivers Chicago at McCormick submitted a proposal for a single site that would be managed by Rush Street Gaming,
  • Rivers 78 Gaming submitted a proposal for a single site that would also be managed by Rush Street Gaming.
There has been a lot of drama and uncertainty about a Chicago Casino, but we are only mildly surprised that many of the submission include spots in the Sloop.  That said, a Casino in the 78 development is one that would drastically change the dynamics of the neighborhood and one that we're pretty lukewarm on.  There are a ton of residential units in and around that area and just feels off in our opinion.    

Will be interesting to see how the city plays this hand.

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Venerable, but Disgraced Sloop Restaurant Acadia Officially Closes Its Doors at 1639 S. Wabash

Likely not the biggest surprise in the world, but it looks like the venerable - but recently disgraced - two Michelin-starred Acadia (1639 S. Wabash) has officially closed their doors (via Eater):

Acadia, the two Michelin-starred restaurant from Ryan McCaskey will not reopen, the chef and owner confirms to Eater Chicago. Earlier this month, “for lease” signs went up above the South Loop restaurant marking the official end of McCaskey’s time in Chicago. The restaurant actually closed in July 2020 shortly after a shockwave of allegations were levied against McCaskey by former employees. At the time, McCaskey said he planned to quickly reopen.

McCaskey has since moved to Maine, where he runs another restaurant, Acadia House Provisions. McCaskey says the ongoing pandemic changed his mind to reopen in Chicago. In a statement to Eater, he writes “we decided to close Acadia because of the mounting obstacles of owning a business, especially a restaurant business in Chicago.”

“Rising crime, burglary attempts, staffing shortages and declining revenue at our price point also forced us to shut the doors,” a portion of McCaskey’s statement reads.

While there may be some truth to McCaskey's statement, it was hard to see how this restaurant could reopen based on the explosive accusations about the toxicity and sexual harassment within this high-profile workplace.


The demise of Acadia is a sad tale for a restaurant that was consistently considered one of the best fine dinning spots in the city.  Furthermore, it was a rare restaurant in the Sloop and one that added a level of eating we simply didn't have before.

When Acadia opened in 2012, there was excitement and anticipation that usually isn't present for new restaurants in the neighborhood.  My wife and I saw the potential during our first visit just one week after it officially opened.

Eventually Acadia shifted to a tasting menu concept and took off.  First they earned one star from the famous Michelin guide in 2013.  Then in 2015 earned two stars from the guide - a distinction that put it in rarefied air with a handful of other top restaurants in Chicago.  It was on the dining map in Chicago and in the world.

During the fall of 2020 - in the midst of the pandemic - the Chicago Tribune published some explosive allegations about owner/chef Ryan McCaskey.  If you read the allegations it was pretty damning and pretty detailed.  At the time, McCaskey said these were untrue and vowed to fight them in court - which seems to be happening currently.

The fate of the restaurant was also in limbo.  It was closed "due to covid", but most felt that it couldn't continue to operate in the face of these allegations.  While there is likely more to this story, it seemed inevitable that they wouldn't be able to reopen.

While Acadia will undoubtedly be missed, fine dinning isn't completely gone in the neighborhood.  Moody Tongue (2515 S. Wabash) brewery surprisingly achieved a two star rating from Michelin last year and Apolonia (2201 S. Michigan) has also been praised and may earn some awards as well.  

That said - Acadia exploded onto the scene about a decade ago, but leaves unceremoniously and disgraced.  A sad story no doubt.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Uber Freight Office Opens Doors at the Old Post Office


Looks like Uber's new office in the Sloop is officially open (via Tribune):
Delayed and downsized by the pandemic, Uber opened its sprawling new office space at the redeveloped Old Post Office, which will serve as the headquarters for its Uber Freight business and Chicago operations.

The San Francisco-based ride-share company cut the ribbon on its ninth-floor office Tuesday, with Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi and other top executives touting a new home and expansive future in Chicago.

The Old Post Office will be the global headquarters for Uber Freight, its fast-growing logistics division launched in 2017 to connect truck drivers with shippers. The space will also house sales, legal, marketing and other staff for the Uber Eats and ride-sharing operations in Chicago.

Chicago’s redeveloped Old Post Office, which has attracted a growing list of technology companies, is now the second largest office location for Uber, both in terms of space and staffing, behind its corporate headquarters, the company said.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

A Taco Restaurant and Liquor Store Coming to The Cooper on South Wells

We received a press release about two new businesses coming to South Wells:
Lendlease , a leading global real estate group, today announced two new retail leases at The Cooper, its 29-story luxury apartment high-rise located at 720 S. Wells St. in Chicago’s Printers Row. Tatas Tacos will open its fourth Chicago restaurant, while Hops & Scotch, a new bottle shop concept from the owners behind South Loop Market, will open its first location.
 
“From the beginning, Southbank has been rooted in community, so we were proud to partner with local businesses like Tatas Tacos and Hops & Scotch that, like us, were drawn to this prime riverfront location,” said Ted Weldon, executive general manager of development for Lendlease’s Chicago office. “The experiential nature of these retail and restaurant concepts, together with existing public offerings like Southbank Park and its adjacent riverwalk, will further establish Southbank as a destination for those who do not already call our community home."
 
Tatas Tacos, which is slated to open in spring 2022, will fill a 5,643-square-foot space on the northern end of the tower. With seating for up to 150 patrons, it will be the largest of the chain’s four locations and serve everything from its popular Mexican Classic and Craft Tacos to more formal plated meals. A brunch menu will also be available on weekends.

We're not familiar with Tatas Tacos but seems to have pretty good reviews online.  There are a lot of taco options in the neighborhood, but restaurants are a little light on Wells.

We are very familiar with the South Loop Markets and nice to see them expanding in the neighborhood with a new concept.

Best of luck to both of these spots!