Friday, January 20, 2017

Looks Like Essex on the Park is Officially Underway

Another major development is officially underway in the Sloop (via Curbed):
The Essex project involves the construction of a 479-unit luxury rental building at 808 S. Michigan Avenue as well as the renovation of the neighboring 1961 Essex Inn at 800 S. Michigan. The soon-to-be-landmarked midcentury modern hotel will be expanded from 254 to 271 guest rooms and repositioned as the ‘Hotel Essex.’ Shared amenities include a new chef-driven three-meal restaurant, a bi-level sky bar named ‘SX,’ and a multi-story indoor winter garden with pool and spa.
Seems like a pretty good addition and we're pretty pumped for a bi-level sky bar.  While those have become prevalent throughout the city, we don't really have many in the Sloop.  Should be cool!

Judging by the pictures, another cool amenity is the "winter garden":

This joins the 76-story rental skyscraper currently underway at Roosevelt and Indiana as two huge projects that will dramatically shift the South Loop and Chicago skyline.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Pizano's Gets It's Sign for Impending Restaurant at Indiana & 21st

A reader writes:
Looks like the corner of 21st and Indiana is getting a new restaurant. Spotted this. Right across from the new DePaul Stadium.

While this news isn't really new, it is the first time we've seen the sign and seems like a good sign (pun intended) of progress!

(Hat tip:  BL!)

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Air Fitness Apparently Coming to ~1319 S. Michigan

A reader writes:
I wanted to let you know that an Air fitness is opening up on Michigan Avenue, According to Air’s website it is scheduled to open February 2017. The gym is located around 1319 S. Michigan Avenue (that is not the exact address) it is just north of the UFC gym on Michigan. I am personally a huge fan of Air (it is a really challenging workout) and am so excited this is coming to our neighborhood!
While most are always clamoring for restaurants/bars, the seems like a pretty unique addition to the neighborhood.  We received some emails from others about this and sounds pretty positive.  Does anyone else have experience with Air?

(Hat tip:  LK & BC!)

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Dearborn Park Losing 12 Trees, but Getting All Replaced

A reader sends us the following pick:

If you're not familiar with the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), the Chicago Park District has a pretty good FAQ page on the subject.  Here is the first entry:
What is EAB?
 The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), Agrilus planipennis, is a beetle native to Asia. In North America it is seriously invasive pest species.

(Hat tip: DW!)

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Friday, January 13, 2017

A Look at Rio's Olympic Stadiums Ain't Pretty

While we doubt a Chicago Olympics would have been as disastrous as Rio's, it still nice to know we probably dodged a bullet.  Deadspin took a look at the Olympic venues just 5 months after they ended and it ain't pretty:
Even before the 2016 Olympics kicked off in August, the state of Rio de Janeiro had declared a “state of public calamity in financial administration.” Five months later, things aren’t any better. 
The famed Maracanã stadium, which was given a $600 million retrofit to host the finals of the 2014 World Cup and the soccer gold medal matches at the Olympics, has fallen into a state of extreme disrepair. There is patchy grass, thousands of missing seats, and festering mold, among other problems, with the Rio 2016 organizing committee saying there are still some repairs it must do. But at least club football is still ongoing in the stadium—and it hosted a Chapecoense benefit match last month—so there is a chance things will be fixed. 
That’s better than can be said about most other Olympic venues. Barra Olympic Park, the complex of nine venues (two of them temporary) that hosted a huge portion of the Games was supposed to be auctioned off. But when the auction only drew a single bidder—who couldn’t meet the stipulations—it was cancelled, and the venues turned over to the federal government. It is unclear how they will be used, and who will control them long-term.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Another Historic Speech in Chicago and Sloop

While some will argue about whether or not President Obama delivered on his aspirational and transformation vision he campaigned on back during the 2008 campaign - especially given the current political environment - it can't be argued that he is an exception role model on many, many fronts.

History will tell us what Obama meant to our nation and where his presidency stacks up, but thinking back to where we were 8 years ago, we are still struggling to really comprehend the old political adage - are you better off now then you were back then?

Statically, it seems like a resounding yes (hello global economy collapsing in 2008/2009?).  Personally, I would say i'm better off, but not sure about you?  Guess that's subjective to your own thoughts.

But as a nation, I'm unsure.  This past election opened my eyes to something I never really questioned - how fragile is our country and our democracy?  It's something that Obama warned about in his speech last night (via ChicagoTribune):
The address presented a dichotomy of Obama's traditional attempts to inspire optimism while also warning his belief that democracy was showing signs of gradual erosion. He cited perceived dangers that include rising income inequality, growing racial tensions, fear of terrorism and a fracturing of media that allows people to exist in their own political preference "bubbles" to hear what they want to hear regardless of fact or science. 
If anything, the speech demonstrated that while Obama is leaving the White House, the 55-year-old president is not headed to quiet retirement amid one-party Republican control of the nation, a controversial successor in the White House and a Democratic Party that finds itself in disarray and without focused leadership.
I didn't vote for Donald Trump for many reasons.  But he won and at this point, I'm hoping I was wrong about him and he is successful.  Like many, I have extreme doubts on many fronts.

But I heard a quote from Elon Musk that for whatever stuck with me.  When asked about the election way back in May of 2016 at Code Conference he said he wouldn't discuss specific candidates but that it was good that the founding fathers ensured that the president was "captain of a large ship with a small rudder".

While I hope Musk is right, it's scary to think that I'm actually questioning that sentiment.

Anyway, glad the neighborhood was able to host another historic event for Chicago's president.  Sad to see him go...but he's a young dude - he'll make his presence felt for a long time.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Car Jacking and Shots Fired at Target Yesterday Afternoon

Yikes - a scary scene at Target today (via ABC7):
Police were searching Tuesday afternoon for a man who fired a half dozen shots as he carjacked a mother with a newborn in the Target parking garage in Chicago's South Loop. 
The incident occurred at about 1:30 p.m. at the Target located at West Roosevelt and South Clark Street.

(Hat tip:  CT!)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Is Yolk a Good Proxy for Defining the Sloop?

We have some great brunch options in the Sloop, but our favorite is Yolk.  So when we see how much success they're having a tear comes to our eye.  It's almost like a proud parent seeing our kid do good.

The Tribune recently sat down with founder Taki Kastanis:
Q: How did you get started in the restaurant business?
A: I grew up in it. In college, I attempted to get out of the restaurant business, and I went pre-med for a couple years. Then I decided to do some real estate, but the restaurant industry was in my blood, so when I had an opportunity to purchase the land and a restaurant out in the suburbs, I jumped at the chance. It was called Egg'lectic Cafe. I opened that one, putting my doctor aspirations behind me, slowed down on the real estate and went back in full force to the restaurant industry.
From there, we experimented with the menu and different systems, which turned into the first Yolk. The original store in the South Loop opened Nov. 21, 2006. River North opened next in line, then Streeterville, West Loop and Lakeview up on Diversey.

Another interesting question and answer in the interview pertained to why Yolk has been so well received:
Q: What is the secret to your success?  A: I think the secret is that we created something different that appeals to a broad range of customers. We're kind of a new-age diner, if you will. I don't really like using that term but same idea where people from all walks of life — businessmen, tourists, families — feel comfortable at Yolk. We're not trying to be too fancy, we're not trying to be too "hipster" or something we're not.
While we know he's specifically talking about Yolk, the sentiment also seemed to pertain to the Sloop.  People often ask us "what is the Sloop like?" and while we are able to define it, for whatever reason it seems to be long-winded.

But maybe the best way to sum up the Sloop is that it just has broad appeal to people from all walks of life?  Thoughts?

Monday, January 9, 2017

Gates Appear to be Up Around 62-Acre Related Midwest Site (aka "Rezkoland")

A reader sends us this picture as it looks like gates are up around the infamous "Rezkoland"

Last December we posted about work to clear this land from the vegetation.  We're still not sure what the plans are, but something tells us we will learn a lot more this year.

(Hat tip:  PO!)

Friday, January 6, 2017

Pediatricians Taking Note of South Loop Growth

If you live in the Sloop and have a kid, this story probably doesn't surprise.  Heck, if you live in the Sloop and don't have a kid it still probably doesn't surprise. has a pretty in-depth look at the Sloop and how pediatricians and hospital networks are rushing in to cater to the population growth:
...And while Paral traces the South Loop boom to 2000, it has taken doctors and hospitals more than a decade to catch up to this hotspot for potential patients. But catch up they have. On the list of academic medical centers that have set up shop there or plan to are Northwestern Medicine and University of Chicago Medicine. (At this point, neither plans to have pediatrics, though Northwestern has doctors who specialize in primary care and family medicine.) 
By 2018, Rush University Medical Center says it will open a pediatric office with four to five doctors near another new addition: a $36 million outpatient site pegged to open the same year at 14th Street and Michigan Avenue, up the block from Weissbluth's future practice. And Advocate Medical Group, which is part of the largest hospital network in Illinois, is spending $20 million to replace its dated outpatient site near McCormick Place with a modern 55,000-square-foot facility and immediate care center. The practice has one pediatrician and is recruiting after losing another—to Weissbluth, says Dr. Rick Bone, vice president of medical management for Advocate Medical Group's south region.
Definitely a good read about trends in our neighborhood and how docs and hospitals are moving in to serve the neighborhood.  It's pretty easy to understand why other businesses are moving in as well.

(Hat tip:  AR & NS!)

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Big Construction and Development Picks Up Where it Left Off in 2016

It's the first week of January 2017.  The air is freezing.  We're just waking up from our holiday hangover, but apparently development in the Sloop isn't.

We wandered over to Curbed Chicago and noticed three separate posts talking about progress for a 76-story building, a 56-story building and a 26-story building.

None of these are new, but all three posts offer some new information.

First - and probably the most high-profile of the bunch (via Curbed):
While it may not look overtly significant to a typical passerby, the heavy machinery currently humming away at the corner of Roosevelt and Indiana in Chicago’s South Loop marks the official start of construction on One Grant Park. Designed by notable Uruguay-born architect Rafael Viñoly for Florida-based developer Crescent Heights, the 792-unit rental tower began site preparations late last year. Utilizing a bundle-tube design similar to Chicago’s Willis (Sears) Tower, the skyscraper is poised to bookend the south end of Grant Park with some much-needed height and provide some visual balance to Chicago’s skyline.

Second - and while not as high as Vinoly's, is primed to make a substantial impact on the skyline of the city (via Curbed):
2017 is shaping up to be a particularly big year for Chicago’s South Loop as a new 600-foot skyscraper moves one step closer to joining South Michigan Avenue’s “Cultural Mile.” Dubbed “Essex on the Park,” the planned 56-story tower is ready to move forward following the recent announcement of a $170 million construction loan by development partners Oxford Capital Group and Quadrum Global, reports Crain’s.
The project will see an old low-rise parking structure at 800 S. Michigan Avenue demolished and replaced by a glassy apartment building designed by Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture. As this tower climbs skyward, the adjacent (and recently landmarked) historic Essex Inn will receive a major overhaul as it is expanded from 254 to 271 guest rooms and rebranded as the Hotel Essex.

Third - compared to the first two, this isn't exciting, but that just goes to show you how much action is happening in the Sloop.  A 26-story building is easily overlooked (via Curbed):
Another tower for the South Loop is officially underway. Construction has recently kicked off on a new 26-story glassy high-rise for the surface parking lot at 1136 S. Wabash Avenue near the the Roosevelt Red Line station. The project, a joint venture between CA Residential and developer Keith Giles, will deliver 320 rental apartments and 5,000 square feet of ground level commercial space. While the project is located just around the corner from a Red Line station and major bus lines, the new development will feature 141 parking spaces in a five-story parking podium facing Wabash Avenue.