Thursday, October 8, 2015

Time for the Chicago Marathon; Beware of Street Closures (and People)

Here is a link to the website if you want more info.

And if you don't want more info at least be aware of the street closures:
(Hat tip: RW!)

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Inclement Weather? Boats Down!

A reader writes:
Attached are two pictures of sail boats that have perished after a couple days of harsh waves. There was a third one but I don't know if that boat sank or someone got it out.

Oh man that sucks!

(Hat tip:  MK!)

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A Quantitative Look at Whether the Sloop Can Absorb All the Proposed Real Estate Developments

We know real estate development is a hot topic around Chicago.  And while there has been a lot of conjecture, we haven't really seen much quantitative rationale assessing the impact of these new proposals.

Obviously this is still not a definitive answer, but it's a more informed piece than many we've read (via a Chicago Now real estate blog - Getting Real):
If you recall the South Loop became a real wasteland during the housing bust and it wasn't until Related Midwest bought 504 condos and remarketed them that we were able to put that whole series of unfortunate events behind us. But according to a May article in Crain's it took Related Midwest just about 3 years to sell all those condos. So how long will it take the South Loop to absorb 1123 new condos and 2061 new apartments?
Let's review the historic data for the South Loop in the graphs below. Most importantly there is the inventory spike and recovery that the South Loop went through. At it's worst the inventory of condos and townhomes hit slightly more than a 28 week supply. When Related came in they initially took a lot of that inventory off the market, but it was really still there, so the numbers appeared to plummet. Eventually they sold through that "shadow inventory" and now we're sitting at a fairly authentic 3.2 month supply, which is low by anyone's standards. This level is fairly typical of the more popular Chicago neighborhoods and it's considered a seller's market.

So what does the blog conclude:
So, on the surface, this endeavor is probably doable provided the Chicago economy doesn't fall out of bed in the meantime or everyone decides to leave the city because of skyrocketing property taxes. 
Then again there is all that other new supply being built around the city and not just condos but all those rental units. At some point if the supply of rentals keeps rents down renting may become cheaper than buying and undercut the demand for condos so who knows? Once the results are in we can all claim to have seen it coming.

Chicago Tribune:
South Loop Poised for Big Residential Building Boom

In case you missed it on Friday, the Chicago Tribune weighs in on the flurry of residential projects being proposed (behind their paywall):
The South Loop, which has worked to reinvent itself in fits and starts, is poised to become the next big thing in Chicago's housing market. 
Four developers announced plans recently for high-rise apartment buildings at the south end of Grant Park along South Michigan Avenue, including a striking 86-story tower designed by star architect Helmut Jahn that would be the 6th tallest in the city. 
Other lofty rental projects include a 76-story tower and two nearly 50-story buildings that, if approved, will flood the South Loop with some 2,000 upscale apartments over several years. On top of that, hundreds of condominium units also are on the drawing board. 
Once home to rail yards and printing presses, the South Loop saw its last wave of residential development dry up as a result of the recession. With the new proposals, developers are placing even bigger bets that the neighborhood bordering the Museum Campus can rival pricier downtown locales and become the city's next residential hot spot.

While it's a pretty long article (which is great) there probably isn't much new news if you're a reader here or are actively involved with neighborhood news.

However, it does have some good historical background for people unfamiliar with the neighborhoods development.

It also has some interesting quotes about the developers perspective on the market and their projects.  Here is one from John Murphy who is behind the 48-story building at 1326 S. Michigan:
"If you play the economy game and you're a renter, every dollar is important," said Murphy, CEO and chairman of Murphy Capital Management. "So you start looking around in Chicago, you're in River North, you're looking for a significant amenity building in a great location. It's just natural, if you look at the dynamics of the South Loop, that this will be the next one to go and you're seeing a huge propagation of properties being developed now to capture that."
While it's a good read, it doesn't even really reference all the other projects that are actually being built or have been proposed throughout the neighborhood (and as a reminder you can check those out at our development tracker).

Some good PR for the Sloop across the broader Chicagoland area!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Sloopin Open House:
A Cool Building and a Nice Place to Eat

It's slim pickings on the open house front this week.  While there are a decent amount, nothing unique really stood out to us.

With that in mind, we default to one of our favorite old buildings in the Sloop - 1322 S. Wabash Ave - aka the Coca Cola building:

The unit that's having the open house is #903 and is a 1bed/1bath listed at $275K (which presumably includes parking).

While the unit is nice, nothing is that unique or amazing.  However, this picture struck a chord with us - it looks like a nice dinning area with the big pictures in the background:

So if you're out and about looking for something to do, swing on by and at least check-out the building.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Target & Freshii Team Up for In Store Cafe Test:
Sloop Target First Location To Be Built & Opening Oct 12

Pic of Freshii in South Loop Target
Looks like we're getting a Freshii...but maybe not in the location you would expect (via Crains - behind paywall):
Fresh food will be on offer in nine Target store cafes around the country, and the change is starting in Chicago.
The Minneapolis-based retail giant is testing a new cafe concept in 14 stores nationwide. In nine of those stores, the cafes that offer ballpark food such as nachos, hot dogs and slushies will be replaced with health-food chain Freshii. Eight of those nine Freshii locations are set to open in Chicago-area Targets starting next month.
Forty percent of Target customers use the cafes, which are the first thing they see after walking into the store, a Target spokeswoman said in an email. The company hopes to reshape its customers' first impression and push healthier options.
The first two Target Freshii locations—in South Loop and Arlington Heights stores—are set to open Oct. 12
While we probably would have prefered to see a standalone Freshii in the neighborhood, the fact that we're getting one is still pretty good.

If you're not familiar with Freshii, here is some background from Wikipedia:
Freshii was founded by Matthew Corrin in Toronto, in 2005.  Originally called "Lettuce Eatery", the store opened to large queues and ran out of food on the first day before the end of lunch. Corrin's vision of fast, fresh food, custom-built, inspired Freshii's reputation for healthy, environmentally sustainable meals and snacks served quickly in a cool, clean setting for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.

We imagine it will probably do pretty good in the Sloop even if it's in a Target.

Bigger question - does this count for the business counter?  Let us know if you think it should.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Public Hearings on Proposed Lucas Museum Unsurprisingly Provide Varied Perspectives

One thing is certain about the proposed Lucas Museum - people are passionate about their opinions.

And that certainty apparently rang true during public hearings on the proposal (via Chicago Tribune):
Opinions about the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art ranged from excitement to distaste as residents got their first chance to speak about the proposed addition to the lakefront at two public hearings this week. 
"I'm here absolutely enraged by them taking away public land for private enterprise," said Jim Purgatorio, 72, before a hearing Wednesday. "My major concern is that if we allow them to do this, that there's no end to the land grab that people are going to make beyond this." 
Others, like Martin Thaler, 60, a professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology, came to the hearings just to learn more about the project. 
"I'm fascinated by George Lucas and the idea behind the museum," Thaler said. 
The Chicago Park District sponsored the hearings Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss museum plans for architecture, landscaping and traffic.

While this debate isn't necessarily new news, there were some new details that came out of the meetings.

Specifically, it looks like some engineers believe that the museum wouldn't impact traffic:
The most anticipated portion of the presentation was about traffic and the impact the museum would have on drivers. Chris Hutchinson, senior traffic engineer with Terra Engineering, said during Tuesday's hearing that most people would be using East 18th Drive to get to the museum and that analysis shows there would be little effect on traffic. 
"Most of the traffic entering the area is going to be using the interchange at Lake Shore Drive and 18th, and really what we found evaluating these new trips that are coming to the Lucas Museum is really 18th, Museum Campus (drive) and this area right now is very underutilized," Hutchinson said. "The signals currently run flash, they don't really run unless there's something going on because there's just no traffic down there."

Not sure if we're buying that, but such is life.

While the museum by no means is a guarantee at this point, it seems likely that it's going to move forward.  This is just intuition on our part, so obviously take it with a grain of salt.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Private Collection of Art and Automobiles to Come to Restored Marmon Grand Building at 2230 S. Michigan

We recently saw an interesting post on the Prairie District Neighbors Association facebook page:

We're pretty sure that some rich dude has a private showroom for his cars somewhere in the vicinity of Motor Row currently.  Maybe he's relocating them to this building and will open it to the public?  One can dream.  Anyone have any insight on this?

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Sociale and Cafe Press Open at Polk and Clark

Counter at Cafe Press (800 S. Clark)
Via Curbed Chicago:
The folks behind Burger Bar have brought a new two-in-one concept to the South Loop. Cafe Press and Sociale—a daytime coffee shop and cafe on one side and a Mediterranean small plate restaurant and wine bar on the other—officially opened on Friday on South Clark Street, and neighborhood residents hungry for more restaurants and cafes are already flocking.  
The 22-seat Cafe Press serves Sparrow coffee drinks, sandwiches, pastries, salads, smoothies and teas in the morning and afternoon. On the other side, the 120-seat Sociale has an array of Mediterranean hot and cold small plates, entrees, wine and cocktails in the evenings. Check out photos of both settings above.

We actually stumbled upon the restaurants "soft opening" last Thursday in need of a quick dinner option.  While we were interested in the restaurant, we need the quickness of a carry-out counter and opted for a falafel sandwich and chicken panini at Cafe Press.

While it wasn't blazingly fast, it was opening day after all.  The chicken panini was enjoyed, the falafel sandwich was not as much.  Regardless, we will be back to check out Sociale and give Cafe Press another shot (after all, the name screams coffee, not necessarily dinner sandwich).

Business Counter is updated.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Solo Eye Care Celebrates 10 Years in the Sloop

Wanted to quickly post and say congrats to Solo Eye Care (1444 S. Michigan) on their 10th Anniversary.  We've had the good fortune of being patients of the practice and have had fantastic experiences over the years.  Dr. Steinmetz and his wife, Nicole, are great people who have been instrumental in the neighborhood throughout the years.

Congrats to them and Solo Eye Care:
Solo Eye Care is celebrating their 10 year anniversary in the Sloop! SoLo Eye Care & Eyewear Gallery was founded in 2005 as the first full service eye care practice in Chicago’s then new South Loop Community. SoLo Eye Care was developed as a fusion of medicine and fashion. They offer medical eye care services in a boutique environment featuring personalized customer service with a focus on the art and science of eyewear selection. SoLo Eye Care is the former home of the first Ford Motor Company outside the city of Detroit and is a designated landmark building by the city of Chicago. Great care was taken in the renovation process to reveal a chic art gallery feel while preserving the character of the space.  
This past weekend Dr. Bob Steinmetz, the owner of SoLo Eye Care, was honored as the 2015 Illinois Optometrist of Year. This award is the highest honor bestowed on an optometrist in Illinois. The award recognizes outstanding service and dedication to the principles of professional optometry and service to his or her patients and community.  
Dr. Steinmetz is a member of several concussion study teams at the Illinois Eye Institute in Bronzeville. He is actively involved in concussion research and the impact of traumatic brain injury on the ocular structure and function of professional boxers and NFL players.  
Five years ago, Dr. Bob founded the Southside Scholarship Foundation to provide scholarships to needy student athletes that wish to attend private grammar schools and high schools on the south side of Chicago.  
Last year, Dr. Steinmetz and his wife Nicole (the managing partner of Kroll’s South Loop) were honored with the Good Neighbor Award for their volunteer work and support of Old St. Mary’s Church and School. 

Thanks for all you do for the Sloop!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Sloopin Open House:
Modern Penthouse Loft Living in Printers Row

Now that your real estate mind has been blown with the amazing amount of new construction units that may be coming to the hood, we figured we would try to find a unique unit that couldn't be replicated by new construction.

This unit is pretty.  Features include multi-level living, a huge terrace with skyline views and a comprehensive remodel of the entire place.

While all this sounds good, it obviously is also reflected in the price.  The unit is listed at $650K with home owners association dues of $1,336/month.  It also appears that the unit doesn't have parking.

So while it might not be the most practical purchase or best deal for a 2 bedroom unit, it would be a nice place to live if money ain't a thang.

Check-it out this Sunday (9/27) from 1-3pm.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Soil Testing Underway at Vacant Lot at Polk & Financial

A reader writes:
I have attached a photo of some soil testing going on at the lot south of the British School. I believe the lot is zoned for a 40 story building presently???  
Add this to the CMK north and south of RC along Wells and the town homes south side of 801 S Wells and the tower already permitted for the northwest corner of RC.... 1000s of units going into 2 or 3 blocks at Polk and Wells essentially.  
City will need to do something soon regarding Wentworth connection, Taylor bridge and underpass at 9th and

While this would typically be exciting, given all the news this week, this frankly seems expected.

These days, it seems like every vacant lot in the broader Sloop has some activity.

Regardless, thanks for peeping this out and if anyone has additional info on this lot please let us know.

(Hat tip:  SE!)