Friday, November 28, 2014

Rentals to Condos A Positive Trend for Sloop Real Estate Market?

1555 S. Wabash - Photo from CoStar Group Inc.
In case you missed this real estate story, this article in Chicago Real Estate Daily points out a positive trend in South Loop real estate:
After renting out a failed South Loop condominium project for two years, a Los Angeles investor has decided the market is strong enough to put the condos back up for sale.  
A venture including Oaktree Capital Management LP that seized the 14-story tower at 1555 S. Wabash Ave. in 2012, after the project landed in bankruptcy, is offering its 141 unsold units to tenants before listing the condos for sale again early next year, according to Chicago-based consulting firm Appraisal Research Counselors.  
Renting condos was a common survival strategy among developers who couldn't sell their units after the bust. With prices rising and buyers returning, some building owners have decided to cash out by putting their units back up for sale.  
The South Loop offering would be the largest number of rented downtown condos in a single building to be put on the market since the crash. Other condo-turned-rental projects that have relaunched sales include Emerald in the West Loop and One Place Condominiums in the South Loop.

In our mind the question remains - is this really a positive sign for the South Loop market?

While we understand the sentiment that developers seeing opportunity could be seen as a positive sign, it also sort of simply seems like a business decision for this LA investor.  They got a steal rescuing this building in bankruptcy and have a good opportunity to turn their investment into more riches.

What do you think?

(Hat tip:  GM!)

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Judge Orders City To Not Alter Propose Lucas Museum Site

From Suntimes:
A federal judge on Tuesday ordered the city not to physically alter the proposed site of The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art until further order of the court during the opening legal battle between the city and opponents of the museum.  
Friends of the Parks filed suit earlier this month asking a federal judge to stop the proposed construction on the site between McCormick Place and Soldier Field. Filmmaker George Lucas wants to build a state-of-the-art museum there.  
Thomas Geoghegan, a lawyer for the advocacy group, asked U.S. District Judge John Darrah for a preliminary injunction Tuesday. The judge then asked city lawyers if they could guarantee work would not begin before the next court hearing on Feb. 26.  
Darrah even likened the situation to Mayor Richard M. Daley's notorious midnight demolition of Meigs Field.
Seems slightly extreme, but then again so did taking bulldozers and carving "X"s into the Meigs Field runways.

(Hat tip:  PB!)

Happy Thanksgiving from Sloopin

Wishing all you Sloopers and all your loved ones a happy thanksgiving!

Now it's time to eat!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Contract to Build DePaul/McPier Arena Approved; Construction Could Begin in Spring 2015

Sketch inside the new DePaul/McPier Arena (via Sun Times)
On Monday we posted about cost projections for the DePaul/McPier Arena soaring to a rumored $250 million.  After some compromises and changes to the design, cost estimates are lower than that number but still slightly higher than originally projected (via Sun Times):
Total cost of the arena portion of the project — $164 million — had gone up about 17 percent since it was first proposed in early 2012, Reilly said. 
Despite the increased cost, the 10,000-seat arena project will remain a 50-50 partnership with DePaul University. The university issued a statement on Tuesday reaffirming its commitment, saying, “DePaul has built or extensively renovated more than a dozen buildings during the last 15 years, and is quite familiar with the process of adjusting budgets or design plans as actual construction costs become known. We remain committed to the larger project and look forward to helping create a building of which the city can be proud, and doing it as cost-effectively as possible.” 
To stay within budget, the arena's design was altered to put the basketball court at ground level; originally, the plan had been to put the main floor of the arena below grade level. Besides DePaul basketball games, the arena will host concerts, amateur sports and other events. 
The groundbreaking could take place in April or May, Reilly said. Construction is expected to take about two years, meaning it would open in 2017, which would be too late for the originally planned 2016-2017 basketball season.
There are also some new renderings of the design.  Beyond the picture above you can see the floor plan below and some other ariel shots:

Fred Anderson Park Nears Completion; Shooting for Mid-Jan Opening Pending Post Construction "Punch List" Review

Looks like Fred Anderson Park continues to progress.  Last week we posted about a potential "design fail" but regardless of that things are moving forward.  A reader writes:
The turf is in !!! Under heated, makeshift tents installers laid in the turf over the course of last Friday, Saturday and Monday, and it was unveiled for all to see on Tuesday. Looks pretty, hope the glue holds !!! 
Latest word from the Chicago Park District is that the park will open in mid-January. The construction will be completed before then, but there is a 30-day punch list period during which the contractor must address anything identified as needing attention after 'completion'. The South Loop Dog Park Action Cooperative (SLDogPAC) is on board to participate in that punch list process.
In other related news, DNAinfo sat down with Acadia Chef/Owner Ryan McCaskey who operates his well regarded eatery next door to the soon to be open park.  The article mostly talks about his restaurant receiving its third consecutive one-star rating from the Michelin guide, but also talks about the restaurants newest neighbor to the north:
Yet for now he'd settle for the dog park to finish construction, which would allow him to put in an outdoor patio for cocktails. "I knew this was coming in years before I got this space," McCaskey said. "There will be some green space, I hope.  
"This makes me nervous," McCaskey said, looking out the window at the fenced-off construction zone. "It looks like they're building Jurassic Park. But we'll see how it pans out for us."v
Sounds like you may be sipping on Acadia cocktails (see post about the Sloopin cocktail at Acadia) while watching fido frolic.

(Hat tip:  BE!)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Three Chicago-Area Women Sue CD One Dry Cleaners

A reader writes:
As a slooper and (former) client of CD One price I urge you to share this in your updates. Their service has declined and this recent article doesn't help the situation (via Chicago Tribune - partial blurb): 
Three Chicago-area women sued a dry cleaning franchisee for allegedly requiring them to work "off the clock" and failing to compensate them for overtime.  
The women, Hortensia Castaneda, Naivi Cobos and Ana Rodriguez, pressed and laundered clothes for CD One Price Cleaners in the South Loop, which is owned by Nilkanth Investment. The women say they were given quotas too high to accomplish in an eight-hour workday, forcing them to complete their tasks "off the clock." 
For example, they were required to press more than 200 garments per hour, while also making hangers for those garments, according to the suit filed Monday in federal court in Chicago. To meet the quota, Cobos and Rodriguez spent two hours at home before or after a shift to make the hangers, the suit alleges. The suit also alleges Castaneda showed up to work before the start of her shift to complete tasks.

(Hat tip:  TC!)

CHA Seeks Bids for Redevelopment of Former Harold Ickes Homes Land

Some big real estate news came through yesterday as the CHA is asking for bids to build on the now vacant land that used to house the infamous Harold Ickes Homes (from Crains):
The Chicago Housing Authority is looking for a developer to remake a big vacant site four blocks west of McCormick Place with new homes and shops. 
CHA is seeking pitches for an 11.3-acre property it owns between 22nd Street and Interstate 55, along the west side of State Street, according to a request for proposals the agency recently released. The site was once part of the Harold Ickes Homes, a 1,006-unit development CHA finished demolishing in 2010.
Further down in the article it confirms that the goal is for mix income housing:
Similar to ongoing redevelopments around the former Cabrini-Green housing project and other areas once dominated by CHA buildings, the agency wants the Ickes site redevelopment to include homes for a range of income levels, along with retail space.  
“The corner of (22nd Street) and State Street will serve to anchor the retail/commercial element of the proposal,” the RFP says. “Special emphasis should be placed on this corner as a transit hub, to maximize retail frontage for ground floor tenant and increased density with a maximum building height comparable to surrounding building structures.”
If you recall back in 2009 the housing project was demolished.  Since then this redevelopment was slow moving.  WBEZ had an article we linked to back in 2013.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Demonstrators March Through Sloop After Ferguson Decision

We're hearing intermittent sirens blaring as demonstrators moved through the Sloop in the wake of the Ferguson decision(via Chicago Tribune).
Activists who had gathered at Chicago Public Safety Headquarters Monday evening to await a grand jury's decision in the death of Michael Brown, marched toward downtown, making their way to Lake Shore Drive. 
Several hundred people marched up Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, reaching Lake Shore Drive about 8:50 p.m., chanting as they went north on the southbound drive. "Whose streets? Our streets" the group shouted. 
About 9:30 p.m., police on horseback wearing riot helmets lined up on Lake Shore Drive near Roosevelt Road, forcing demonstrators to head north on Columbus Drive as the smell of horse manure wafted through the air. Lake Shore was reopened about 9:40 p.m. and police and protesters came to a stop at Balbo Drive and Wabash Avenue.
Some protesters were being chased by police after crossing through a line of officers at Wabash.

Police on bicycles blocked the protesters from continuing north on Columbus at Balbo.

A reader sent us the picture above and the below.

UPDATE from Wabash/Balbo:

(Hat tip:  JG & SM!)

Peeping the Baller Buildout for Burger Bar

Try to say "Peeping the Baller Buildout for Burger Bar" fast 5 times...

We've posted about the buildout before but upon a recent stroll down Michigan Avenue we noticed that you could finally see inside the space that will eventually become the Sloop's Burger Bar at 1160 S. Michigan and it looks pretty good:

Another nice feature is that it appears that the windows are of the retracting garage door type so when the weather permits people can enjoy their surroundings.

We're pretty pumped for this and can't wait for them to open.

"Dug-in" Design Sends DePaul Arena Cost Projections Soaring

This isn't surprising, but still is concerning (crain's):
The Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority is negotiating with a general contractor for the proposed DePaul arena near McCormick Place, but the two sides are struggling with a price tag that has soared to as much as $250 million, about 75 percent more than the original estimate, according to people close to the bidding process. 
McPier next week is expected to award a design-build contract for the arena and an adjacent 1,200-room Marriott hotel to a venture led by Bethesda, Md.-based Clark Construction Group, those sources tell Crain's. The cost of the 51-story hotel is expected to be in line with previous estimates, or a total of roughly $400 million. 
But a sticking point is the "dug-in" design of the 10,000-seat arena, which places its playing floor well below ground level. That feature has pushed construction costs above the $140 million that McPier and city officials optimistically projected when they announced the project in May 2013, sources said.
Joe Cahill of Crain's weighs in and says "McPier should stop chasing rainbows, dump DePaul arena":
But the agency is in no position to chase after rainbows. Despite winning legislative approval to refinance a towering debt burden, McPier remains a financial outpatient. Assets trail liabilities by $1.1 billion, and McPier posted an operating loss of $91.4 million last year. Even after the refinancing, the hotel tax revenues that are supposed to cover McPier's debt service fell short of the mark by about $60 million last year. 
The last thing McPier needs is financial responsibility for a money-losing arena. Instead of denying the inevitability of construction cost overruns, the agency should use them as an excuse to avert another fiscal fiasco. 
Yes, McPier already has spent $37.8 million buying and clearing land for the arena. But that doesn't make the arena a good investment. Proceeding with construction would only throw good money after bad. 
Taxpayers would be better served if McPier were to sell the land to a private real estate developer or set it aside for some future expansion of McCormick Place.

While he might be on to something, it still feels like this project is moving forward.

Maybe they should listen to the wise and influential 90's R&B group TLC who also suggested that we don't "Chase Waterfalls" (which for whatever reason is what we thought of when we read the title of Mr. Cahill's article - sigh):
Don't go chasing waterfalls
Please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you're used to 
I know that you're gonna have it your way or nothing at all 
But I think you're moving too fast

Bet you didn't see this post ending with a seque to TLC....

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Meet Bre, a 4-Year-Old Pit Bull Mix

Sloopin is proud to work with The Anti-Cruelty Society and the PetSmart Charities Everyday Adoption Center (EAC) in the South Loop (1101 S. Canal) to help bring awareness to their adoption program.  Every month we will be posting about a local animal who could use a home.

This week please meet Bre:
Say hello to Bre, a 4-year-old pit bull mix who is available for adoption through The Anti-Cruelty Society. Bre is a social, friendly girl, whose tail is always wagging! She can be a little nervous coming through thresholds and approaching stairs, but will come forward with gentle encouragement. Bre should adjust well to most households and will make a great companion for a variety of families. Come meet this sweet, soft girl today at the PetSmart Charities Everyday Adoption Center located in the South Loop PetSmart.
The Anti-Cruelty Society, Chicago’s oldest and largest animal welfare organization, opened up the South Loop satellite location in 2013! So far they have adopted close to an impressive 1,000 cat, dogs, puppies and kittens.

The EAC has room for 42 dogs, cats, puppies and kittens. The 2,075 square foot facility includes kennels for dogs of all sizes, a cat adoption center, play areas for dogs waiting to find a home and an area for adopters and pets to hold meet-and-greets. More info on the EAC and the animals available can be found here.

Design Fail at Fred Anderson Dog Park?

Designer fail - a reader writes:
The new park currently being built just south of 16th and Wabash has a very interesting "sail like" feature (photo above). It ought to be interested seeing how much snow it can collect/hold before ripping apart this Winter Season. Not sure what the designer was thinking?
As you will recall things are moving quickly at the Fred Anderson Dog Park.  Last we heard they were shooting for a mid-November opening.  Judging by this picture we found on Facebook, it looks like they're pretty close to opening.

(Hat tip:  MK & JL!)

Friday, November 21, 2014

New Dance Studio and Residential Project in Buildout Mode at 1920 S. Wabash

Upon a recent trip down south we noticed a sizable buildout in progress at the 1900 block of South Wabash:

It sparked enough interest from us to pull to the side and take a picture of the permit to see if the project description had more details:

In case you can't read the small print (you probably can't) here is what it says:
Construct a new IC five story building.  1st floor for a dance studio at 6858 sq ft.  2nd thru fifth floors for residential units at 2552 sq ft each.  A four car attached garage at 1152 sq ft and a roof deck over the fifth floor of the building at 715 sq ft per plans.