Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Crescent Heights Gigantic 76 Story High-rise to Begin Construction at SW Corner of Roosevelt and Indiana

Exciting news about a hotly-anticipated, (potentially) skyline defining high-rise from a reader:
Dear Owners and Residents: 
Please note that Management was just informed today that McHugh Construction will be mobilizing next week to commence construction of 1200 S. Indiana. They will first clear the site, as well as erect fencing around the perimeter. They will also establish the private alley connection through to Michigan Avenue. Drilling of deep foundations is anticipated to begin by the beginning of January 2017 and will take approximately 2 months. Finally, excavation and construction of the rest of the foundation system and related underground work will carry on through the end of May 2017. 
As a reminder, the first phase of this development will start at the southwest corner of Indiana and Roosevelt (the second tower from the right in the rendering).  Last we heard, this building would be 76 stories tall and have 792 rental units.

While this project will be a major new addition to the South Loop's skyline and the city's, it has been met with concerns from some neighbors (as we posted about back in April).  We're unsure if plans have been adjusted to take any of these concerns into account, but regardless, looks like this big project is moving forward.

Seems like a strange time to start the project (at the onset of winter), but we guess that's not a concern.

(Hat tip:  AR!)

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Vegetation Being Cleared Out of "Rezko Lot"

Looks like the "Rezko Lot" is getting some grooming - via a reader:
Just wondering if you've gotten word or any updates on the clearing out of the Rezko lot? It looks like it has been cleared of trees, debris, high grass etc. starting at Roosevelt and up to about 14th Street. Over the last couple of days I have seen this same, sginle green excavation type equipment out there and this morning noticed there were two guys who seemed to be standing guard. I assume it is preparation for what is to come, whatever that may be. I have attached a picture which is pretty fuzzy as I was zoomed in.

Two different readers sent us some pictures:

Rezko Lot (South of Roosevelt and West of Clark)
As you may recall this amazingly large lot is part of a gigantic (undisclosed) development plan by prominent real estate group Related Midwest.  They haven't released many details about the plan, but last we heard we would see something in 2017.

This lot will also have the Wells-Wentworth connector running through it which is aimed at providing another north/south route to better connect the loop to south loop and chinatown.

It's unclear if the city or the developer (or both) are clearing out this lot.  Regardless it's definitely a sign of something to come.

(Hat tip:  SE& TP!)

Monday, December 5, 2016

Trump Swastika Stickers Seen in the South Loop

Via DNAinfo:
A South Loop woman posted this photo of a
swastika sticker to Facebook this week.
The neighborhood alderman says city
workers have been busy removing such
stickers in the neighborhood
since last month's election.
South Loop residents are reporting a rash of swastika stickers throughout their neighborhood.  
City workers have been "very, very good" at removing the swastika stickers from street signs and other places in the Downtown area, said Kevin Lampe, a spokesman for Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd).  
Anne Sheahan, a spokeswoman for the city's Department of Streets and Sanitation, said its workers have been dispatched to take down the swastika stickers upon reports from neighbors.  
Personally, this one hits close to home both literally and figuratively.  My grandparents are holocaust survivors who endured life in concentration camps and were lucky to immigrate to our wonderful country.

The swastika is something to this day that conjures up tremendous heartache and pain for what they went through and what it symbolizes.

While we hope this is an isolated and limited occurrence in our neighborhood, it's undeniable that this hateful sentiment is permeating throughout our country (and world for that matter).

The pain we feel by this symbol is rooted in a horrific past mostly aimed at Jewish people (although others were certainly targeted by the Nazis).  The current wave of contemporary hate seems broader and aimed at various minorities - muslims, hispanics, african americans, jews and others.

We live in a wonderfully diverse neighborhood with all types of people, colors, religions and cultures.  We know the majority of our neighbors are true americans - tolerant and accepting of all.

But one thing we've learned over the years is that when you see hate, please stand up to it.  Whether that's reporting it to authorities or simply removing a sticker.  We as Americans are better than this.

(Hat tip:  NK!)

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Mercat a La Planxa Getting a Face-lift Starting in the New Year

Via Chicago Tribune:
There are few phrases more chilling for a restaurant than "closed for renovation," which often is code for "getting our stuff out before the landlord changes the locks." 
But management at Mercat a la Planxa, the 8-year-old Spanish restaurant inside the Blackstone Hotel (638 S. Michigan Ave.), assured that this renovation is, indeed, a renovation. 
"It will start Jan. 2 and last a couple of months," said general manager Andy Pishko. "It's pretty significant." 
Plans include expanded seating for both bars, and new dining-room furniture to move the restaurant from rustic to contemporary. A wall will be opened up to create a private seating area overlooking the hotel lobby, and a few cosmetic touches will give the dining room cleaner lines and a sleeker look.

Fear not, Mercat aficionados; the honeycomb room divider and the Gaudi-inspired art high on the walls will remain.

While it's good to hear they're not closing, it does mean two of the better restaurants on Michigan Avenue in this area will be closed.  Besides Mercat, the popular Brasserie by LM restaurant at the Essex Inn is closing for approximately two years to make way for their new tower.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Fun With Maps: Oh How the Sloop Has Developed...

Curbed Chicago posted a fun map thingy yesterday from Google maps showing how places have changed over the past 3 decades:
We’ve all heard the stories about Chicago’s stagnant population growth, but yet at the same time, the city is experiencing a construction boom that hasn’t been seen in years. The stats say that the city is changing, and now with satellite images from Google Earth, we can get a pretty good view of how exactly the city has developed over the years. Google teamed up with Carnegie Mellon University’s CREATE Lab to create an interactive map tool which features 33 cloud-free comprehensive mosaics of the earth (Google says that over 5 million satellite images from over the past three decades were used to create these mosaics).
While their post has some fun then and now photo sliders, we really enjoyed clicking this link and play around with Google's Earth Engine.  Type in Chicago and zoom into the Sloop.  It's pretty fun to see Northerly Island transform over the years, or McCormick Place expand or the hundreds of buildings pop up in the neighborhood.  Try it's a great Friday activity:

Thursday, December 1, 2016

#SAVEKAYO Fliers Produce a Heartwarming Story

You may have seen these #SAVEKAYO fliers around the Sloop recently.  It's quite the story if you haven't:
The breeder of the company CHICAGO FRENCHIES (WWW.CHICAGOFRENCHIES.COM), IG:(@blueivyfrenchie) FB-(CHICAGO FRENCHIES) - Has stolen our dog KAYO that he sold to us in December 2015. Part of the deal for his rare color was to let him pick up kayo from time to time for photoshoots for his company. He picked our dog up with my permission on Monday November 7th at 2 p.m. - To take photos for his companys "sponsors". I haven't heard from him since. He has now blocked and ignored us on every platform. THIS IS A KIDNAPPING. We are beyond devastated, sad, and broken. Please try to help us get our dog back and spread the word. And maybe this won't happen to anyone else.

Well it appears that these fliers and the ABC I-Team have helped cracked the case:

Pretty crazy.  If you need some more pics of KAYO check out their instagram page.

(Hat tip: KC!)

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Armand's Victory Tap Teams Up with Rosebud Vet for South Loop Location

Armand's Victory Tap has been open for a little bit at 1416 S. Michigan for a little bit now and judging by the Yelp reviews, seems to be doing pretty well (4.5 stars).

We haven't had a chance to give it a try, but did appreciate reading about it and how it's a revved up version of the suburban pizza chain (via Eater Chicago):
Earlier this year, when chef Joe Farina left his stint as Rosebud's corporate chef, he got in touch with childhood friend Tony Gambino to pursue a long-held dream of working together. Gambino, who owns the Armand’s Pizzeria chain of neighborhood pizza spots, wanted to expand and open a batch of full-service restaurants sporting the Armand’s name. Thus, Armand’s Victory Tap was born, combining Armand’s pizza with Farina’s Italian-American dishes. The first Victory Tap is now open in the City Tavern space that’s been vacant for two years at 1416 S. Michigan Ave. in the South Loop.   
Those familiar with Farina’s dishes at Rosebud—his meatballs, chicken parmesan and classics like shrimp DeJonge—should be comfortable with the menu at Victory Tap. "We’re using the same fresh ingredients," Farina said.  
While the location does plenty of pizza carry-out and delivery business, the dine-in menu deemphasizes those pies. Instead there’s a line of 10-inch appetizer pizzas, including several with olive oil bases. The offerings, like steak and seafood, are more upscale than what Armand’s diners are accustomed to—some Armand’s are tiny, only selling pizza slices. But Gambino and Farina haven’t installed upscale prices. The crispy lemon chicken at $29 is the priciest item on the menu. There are also 18 beers and 25 wines by the glass.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Asian Outpost's Evolved Menu Has Us Happy

For what it's worth, we don't get out as much as we use to.  As a result, we've been all over the carry-out and delivery scene in the Sloop.

With that in mind, we've been very impressed with Asian Outpost's progress.  As a reminder, this restaurant opened in 2014 at 1315 S. Wabash.  We liked it back then, but it appears that they have evolved their menu.

What you'll find now is a wide variety of asian dishes.  The one thing that we've really enjoyed are the Hawaiian inspired Poke bowls (specifically the Tuna Poke and Spicy Salmon Mango Poke).  They're not cheap at $13.95, but they offer a ton of different ingredients and are pretty delicious.

There are other new and exciting dishes as well...we just haven't had the chance to try those yet.

The other thing we've enjoyed is walking into this place - as captured in the pic above.  Not exactly sure what it is about it, but it just feels fresh when you're greeted by all this vegetation upon entry.  We assume some of the spices under the grow lamps are being used in the dishes?

Anyway, if you haven't been to Asian Outpost in awhile we would suggest you giving it another try.  We've been pleasantly surprised.

Monday, November 28, 2016

1411 S. Michigan Project Gets Loan; Slated for Completion in Spring 2018

Looks like the developer of a new project at 1411 S. Michigan is moving forward (via
The developer of a 15-story South Loop apartment building scored a nearly $53 million construction loan to finance the project, jumping into a crowded rental market that's showing signs of softness. 
A joint venture led by Chicago-based Russland Capital Group is building the 199-unit tower at 1411 S. Michigan Ave., a few blocks west of Soldier Field. The venture borrowed $52.7 million from Square Mile Capital Management, a New York investment firm, to finance the development, according to Colliers International, the brokerage that arranged the financing.

The strange thing about this article was this piece:
Russland Principal Jacob Bletnitsky is confident his project will succeed even though it will face competition from other new buildings. Amid strong job growth in the city, more people are moving downtown, and they’re more interested in renting than buying, he said.  
“I don’t think we’re going to have a problem filling the units,” he said. “I think the rental market is going to stay hot for at least five years. But who knows? Nobody expected what happened eight or nine years ago,” when the downtown condominium market crashed.

Now we're not major real estate developers, but a market staying hot for five years doesn't seem like a very long time for an rental building - especially since this project isn't slated to be done until spring 2018.

That being said, the fact that they have a deal in place with Rush hospital seems pretty stable.

Does that statement seem strange to anyone else?

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thanks from Sloopin & The Holiday CTA Schedule

Before we check-out for the Thanksgiving holiday - we wanted to take a moment to say thanks to all of you for helping us maintain Sloopin.  It ain't easy, but have so many people read and contribute makes it all worthwhile.

With that said, we also wanted to share the holiday CTA train schedules in case you're looking for some cheer (via NBC Chicago):
The CTA's most festive train comes back into service this Saturday for its 25th year and it's bringing with it a new partner -- the "Elves' Workshop Train."
A six-car train outfitted with Christmas lights and covered in snowflake and Santa Claus paintings will run on all eight rail lines beginning this weekend. Joining the holiday train on tracks throughout the city will be the new Elves' Workshop Train, which will also be covered in colorful lights, garland, bows and festive winter scenes.

Holiday Train (*Elves' Workshop Train following) 
  • Sat., November 19 – Red Line 
  • Fri., November 25 – Green Line 
  • Sat., November 26 – Green Line* 
  • Tue., November 29 – Green and Orange Lines 
  • Wed., November 30 – Brown and Orange Lines 
  • Thu., December 1 – Brown and Orange Lines 
  • Fri., December 2 – Brown and Orange Lines 
  • Sat., December 3 – Brown and Orange Lines* 
  • Tue., December 13 – Red Line 
  • Thu., December 15 – Red Line 
  • Sat., December 17 – Red and Purple Lines* 
Holiday Bus 
  • Fri., December 2 -- No. 22 Clark 
  • Sat., December 3 -- No. 22 Clark/ No. 97 Skokie 
  • Thu., December 8 -- No. 12 Roosevelt 
  • Fri., December 9 -- No. 12 Roosevelt 
  • Fri., December 16 -- No. 62 Archer 
  • Sat., December 17 -- No. 62 Archer 
  • Thu., December 22 -- No. 3 King Drive 
  • Fri., December 23 -- No. 3 King Drive 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

"Mayor of Chinatown" - Tony Hu Gets One Year in Prison

One of our favorite Chefs in Chinatown gets one year in prison (via Curbed):
Six months after federal authorities charged Tony Hu with a battery of tax fraud-related crimes, the famous Chicago Chinese restaurant owner was sentenced to one year and one day in prison and fined $100,000. Judge Amy J. St. Eve delivered the sentence this afternoon inside the federal courthouse in downtown Chicago which he should start in February. 
The sentencing marks the end of an investigation that started four years ago. The public became aware of the legal problems back in October 2014 when FBI and IRS agents raided Hu’s 10 Chinatown restaurants. Agents were seen carrying out boxes from the restaurants. Presumably, the boxes contained documents and other paperwork of evidence proving Hu bilked the government of $1 million in taxes from $9.8 million in sales. Hu, 49, pleaded guilty to the charges in May. The illegal activity took place from 2010 to 2014. 
Hu served as an icon for Chicago’s Chinatown, as his community outreach and restaurants gave him the title "Mayor of Chinatown." He forged relationships with city politicians and local celebrities dined at his restaurants. His real name is Hu Xiaojun and he is a naturalized citizen.