Friday, May 29, 2015

New Dunkin Donuts to Move Into Roosevelt El Retail Space

A reader writes:
I noticed the attached today in the window of the former pizza place at the Roosevelt green/orange station this morning. There were a couple of guys in the space as well.

While it may not be the most interesting thing we could dream of, it probably is the most practical business to come into the space.  If you will recall, this space was originally Butterfield Kitchen, which was a local upscale breakfast and lunch space.  While in theory this seemed like a good fit for the neighborhood it probably wasn't the best location for this concept.

After that closed, Bacci Pizza, the popular home of the gigantic slice of pizza, opened up shop but faced a similar fate.

Clearly Dunkin Donuts has a proven business model, so we imagine they will likely succeed in this location.

In other business news that may have been negatively affected by its proximity to this CTA stop, we recently reported that Jersey Mike's closed up shop at 26 E. Roosevelt.  Dennis McClendon commented on the post that a 7-11 is actually taking over the space.  Again, maybe not the most sexy retailer we could dream up, but probably a pretty logical one that will probably do well at this location.

What do you think?  Two proven gigantic companies moving into these locations - good or bad?  Or whatever, this is a stupid thing to be discussing?

(Hat tip:  JB!)

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Chicago Magazine Checks in at Spoke & Bird

The patio at Spoke & Bird
Some nice pub for the new restaurant Spoke & Bird (via Chicago Magazine):
There is a lot going on inside Spoke & Bird (205 E. 18th St., 805-703-4081) but while the array of sandwiches, pies, and lattes are all tasty diversions, you can and should focus your attentions on one thing: Their large and lovely beer garden, which, with its wide open spaces and wrought-iron seating, feels like it could have been imported from a far more outdoorsy city. 
It’s an ideal place to set up shop for an afternoon (or evening–though the spot technically closes around dinnertime, when the weather’s nice on the weekends, they’ll stay open as long as people want to hang out) and sip on something local–the draft list prioritizes places such as the South Loop Brewing Company and Pollyanna Brewing Company. Even better, it’s cyclist-friendly: Co-owners Scott Golas and Alicia Bird are both on Chicago’s XXX-Athletico Racing Team, and there’s bike-related paraphernalia scattered throughout the spot.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Fred Anderson Park Grand Opening Celebration Sunday, May 31st at 1pm

The Fred Anderson Park has been open for use since late last year, but the official grand opening is apparently this weekend.  A reader writes:
Members of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Music (AACM) will perform live on the Fred Anderson Park Stage during the official GRAND OPENING CELEBRATION for this new Chicago Park District Park named in honor of Chicago’s beloved musician, mentor and composer Fred Anderson.
The program will feature the AACM Great Black Music Ensemble conducted by Mwata Bowden. Hamid Drake and Joshua Abrams will open the concert with a duet (frame drum and guimbri).
Parking and food will be available at a modest cost from True Rock Ministries.
Please join in the celebration!
1 p.m. Sunday, May, 31, 2015
Fred Anderson Park
1611 S. Wabash Ave. Chicago, IL 60616

For those interested in Mr. Anderson, the Chicago Tribune has a good read:
Anderson "was one of the Chicago's most creative, acclaimed and beloved musicians," reads the park's plaque, which features musical notation for a few bars of Anderson's tune "The Strut." "Inspired by Charlie Parker's music, Anderson developed his own unique method of playing jazz. As an original member of Chicago's world-renowned Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, he performed in the first AACM concert in 1965."

For some musical enjoyment here is a video of Fred doing what he does:

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Villains Officially Reopens on South Clark

There have been a couple false starts on the opening of the new Villain's (730 S. Clark), but it appears that the doors are finally open.

We received a variety of emails from excited readers as well as noticed that the official announcement was made on the Villain's facebook page.  

And frankly the wait has probably been worth it!  While we liked the dark dungeon feeling of the old Villains, the new location's is open, airy and industrial:

For those newer to the Sloop, Villains was one of our favorite bar/restaurants, but lost their lease back in late 2012 after some issues with their landlord.  The space at 649 S. Clark eventually became the bar/restaurant First Draft.

Welcome back Villains and thanks for calling the Sloop home.  Business counter updated!

(Hat tip: JM & KM!)

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Sloopin Open House:
Living at The Historic Trevi Square

The Sloopin Open House is a new weekly feature on the site where we highlight some of the more interesting open houses we see every week. We're not claiming they're the best deals or that we would necessarily recommend jumping all over the opportunity, but I doesn't hurt to look, right?
Trevi Square at 1439 S. Michigan is one of our favorite buildings in the Sloop.  For those who are into the historic thing, the building used to be Saint Lukes Hospital and actually is on the US National Registry of Historic Places.

We've seen a lot of units in the building and each one seems to have a relatively unique layout and feel.  Today, we noticed that there is an open house for a 1 bed, 1 bathroom unit from 11-1pm.  The unit seems to be in nice shape and have some nice finishes (we liked the backsplash in the bathroom).

The unit is priced at $315K which seems a little high for similar space in the neighborhood, but then again this is one of the more sought after buildings in the Sloop.  Regardless, if you're in the market it may be good to stop on by and see what this building looks like.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Mark for Your Calendar for this Seasons Movies in the Park

Ahhhhhhhhh spring!  With this lovely time of year also comes some lovely outdoor activities.  We'll be doing our best to capture these so you are aware and can take advantage.

First up, it came to our attention that DNAinfo has a lovely interactive map showcasing all the "Movies in the Park".  We'll let you play around with it yourself, but did want to call out the dates and movies for the two parks in the South Loop that will be partaking in the program:
Daniel Webster Park 1357 S. Indiana Ave.
July 21: Paddington
Aug. 11: The Princess Bride 
Chicago Women's Park & Gardens 1801 S. Indiana Ave.
July 28: Big Hero 6
Aug. 27: The Incredibles
We loved The Icredibles and have heard some glowing reviews for Big Hero 6:

Millennium Park also has numerous showings and while it's not in the Sloop it's damn close.

Moral of the story is to mark your calendars and take advantage of these fun events in the parks.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Some South Loop Public Art Registers in Curbed Chicago's Most Iconic List

We like maps and we like lists.  That's why we liked reading a recent post on Curbed Chicago that lists out downtown Chicago's most iconic pieces of public art.  While it might not be the most surprising list, our fair neighborhood had two specific pieces that registered on the list:
Head south of Millennium Park and Buckingham Fountain and you'll find yourself standing face to face with Union Army General John Logan. The tall bronze statute was completed in 1897 and remains a powerful monument to Logan's role as a general in the Civil War and later as an Illinois State Senator, a U.S. Congressman, and a U.S. Senator 
#20: AGORA
Tucked away on the far south end of Grant Park is a series of nine-foot tall bronze, steel, and iron torsos. The 106 sculptures were designed by Polish artist Magdalena Abakanowicz and installed in Grant Park in 2006.
In our opinion Buckingham fountain is also in the Sloop, so we will lay claim to that also which registers in at #6 (although in our book it's probably #1 or #2 with the Bean if we're ranking them as most iconic).

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Tall and Strange Bus Stops Erected at Roosevelt El Stop?

The Roosevelt Road streetscape improvement work is still in full swing.  We're excited to see what the finished product will look like, but until then it hasn't been super smooth.  Yesterday we posted about some spelling issues with some of the pavers and benches.

Today a reader sends us a photo of some massive structures that have been installed on the south and north sides of the Roosevelt CTA stop:

While we're not 100% sure what these are, our guess is that these structures are two fold:

  1. It looks like it's forming a shelter, so we think it might be a bus shelter of some variety.
  2. We also are pretty sure these will be "neighborhood signage" which is something we read about during this project.  As you can see in the rendering below, there are some huge yellow structure that resemble what is currently being built:

Can anyone confirm what these are?  Or have seen renderings of what the finished product will look like?

(Hat tip:  TB!)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Celebrate Craft Beer Week with Three South Loop Breweries at Flo & Santos Tomorrow (5/20)

A fun and what we would expect to be a delicious time (click here for ticket info):

Spellcheck Alert!
Words on New Roosevelt Rd Bench & Pavers Have Errors

The word Jupiter is misspelled on a granite paver installed on the new Roosevelt Road pedestrian pathway project in the Loop. (via Redeye)
We all make mistakes.  Here a Sloopin we occasionally misspell wurds words.  At least we have the ability to update our digital content relatively easy.

Unfortunately that wasn't the case for some of CDOT's recent work on Roosevelt (via Redeye):
Looks like someone forgot to press the spellcheck button. Two words—Jupiter and Cassiopeia— were misspelled on public art installations that went up on a new Roosevelt Road pedestrian pathway in the Loop, and now the Chicago Department of Transportation, which commissioned the project, is busy trying to fix the problem.
On one of the granite pavers, the word Jupiter appears as "Jupitor." Words are sandblasted into the granite pavers.
On one of the benches, Cassiopeia—a constellation—is spelled "Cassiopedia." Words are either sandblasted or cut into the benches.
The benches and granite pavers cost approximately $4,000 and $180-$300, respectively, said landscape architect Jane Chen of Altamanu Inc., the firm hired to design the project.
The word Jupiter was misspelled on original construction documents obtained by RedEye from project designer Krivanek. But the word Cassiopeia, which appears both on pavers and on one of the benches, was spelled correctly, signaling a problem during fabrication.
The good news is that this apparently won't cost the city anything to fix (except maybe pride).
The word Cassiopeia is misspelled on a new bench installed on the new Roosevelt Road pedestrian pathway project in the Loop. (Lenny Gilmore / RedEye)
(Hat tip: Aweb!)

Monday, May 18, 2015

Big Developers Place Bets on Huge South Loop Projects

Last week was quite the real estate week here at Sloopin with two announcements of potential massive developments.  Early in the week it was announced that local developer CMK Co. had inked a joint venture deal on a huge $1.5 Billion development plan along the the Chicago River north of Roosevelt.

While there was speculation and excitement when they did their land grab earlier this year, this was the most concrete news.  A day after the joint venture was announced, they also let it be known who was going to be the master architect for the 10-year project (via
Ralph Johnson, the prolific Chicago architect behind such familiar buildings as the Boeing headquarters, the Skybridge condominium tower in the West Loop and the Rush University Medical Center that overlooks the Eisenhower Expressway, will master-plan a 13-acre project on the South Branch of the Chicago River.
We weren't familiar with Mr. Johnson, but do like the Rush University Medical Center and that project.
South Loop Construction Maps via Crains

If that wasn't big enough news, the real bombshell came when this doozy of a project was announced (via Crain's):
Residential developer Related Midwest is moving in on one of the biggest vacant tracts of land in the city, 62 acres in the South Loop once controlled by now-imprisoned power broker Antoin “Tony” Rezko.  
Chicago-based Related Midwest, one of the busiest developers in the city, has signed a letter of intent to form a joint venture with the property's owner that would develop the site, which stretches a half-mile south from Roosevelt Road to Chinatown along the Chicago River, according to people familiar with the transaction.  
The parcel is big enough for a project that could include several thousand homes and a major shopping center along Roosevelt, the South Loop's main retail strip. Rezko's Chicago-based development firm, Rezmar, unveiled ambitious plans for the tract about a decade ago but failed to get a project going and eventually sold the property a decade ago to its current owner, General Mediterranean Holding, a Luxembourg conglomerate.
While this presumably has a long way to go still, Related Midwest (and for that matter Related Properties) is probably one of a handful of US developers who actually has the experience to pull off a development of this magnitude.

If you don't believe us just read this fascinating story about Stephen Ross, a midwestern born lawyer turned billionaire real estate developer (among other things), who founded Related Properties and is currently in the process of developing New York's $12 Billion Hudson Yards project.

The news of the deal for the "Rezko property" is just one of a slew of Chicago projects that Related has recently had its hands on.  As some Sloopers may remember, this is the company that decided to double down on the neighborhood and buy up 500+ condos in three South Loop towers during the housing bust.  It appears that the bet paid off as last week there was an article in Crain's saying that they've pretty much sold all of those units.

And while the 62-acre south loop land has a lot of transformative potential for the neighborhood and city, it probably wouldn't even be the companies most high-profile project in Chicago.

If you recall, Related Midwest now owns the land at 400 N Lake Shore, home to the amazingly ambitious but now defunct Chicago Spire project.

The moral of the story is that the South Loop real estate development market appears to be red hot again.  Hopefully this round doesn't end up like 2008.

What do you think about all of this?  Good?  Bad?  Scary?  Impossible to really know?

(Hat tip: PO, BZ, DL!)