Thursday, December 18, 2014

South Loop Clocks in as the 2 Seed for the 2014 Curbed Cup; First Round Match-up Against Bridgeport

If you're interested in bragging rights and would like to help the Sloop, head on over to Curbed Chicago to vote for the South Loop in the 2014 Curbed Cup competition.

The Sloop is the 2 seed and facing off against our venerable South Side brethren in Bridgeport.  Vote early and vote often!

For those keeping track the seeding is as follows:

  1. The Loop
  2. South Loop
  3. Lakeview
  4. West Loop
  5. Streeterville
  6. Lincoln Square
  7. Albany Park
  8. Andersonville
  9. Logan Square
  10. Humbolt Park
  11. Pilsen
  12. North Center
  13. Uptown
  14. Hyde Park
  15. Bridgeport
  16. Morgan Park

A Historical Look at Ferdinand Wythe Peck, a South Loop Resident and Driving Force Behind the Auditorium Building

Ferdinand Wythe Peck's Home at 1826 S. Michigan
There has been a good amount of press about the well regarded Auditorium Theater and it's 125th anniversary.

The Sloop's historic Glessner Home used this occasion to do a blog post about an old South Loop resident who was instrumental in building the Auditorium theater:
Tuesday December 9, 2014, marks the 125th anniversary of the opening of Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre. Much has been written about the Auditorium Building, its magnificent theater, the architects Adler & Sullivan who designed it, and its importance in the history of American architecture. In this article, the 200th published to our blog since we began in January 2011, we shall look at the home of Ferdinand Wythe Peck, the driving force behind this monumental undertaking.
Later in the post the get to history of how Peck ended up in the area:
As work continued on the Auditorium Building, Peck engaged William LeBaron Jenney to design a new home for him at 1826 S. Michigan Avenue, in the exclusive residential district where many of his board members resided. The imposing structure, faced in Vermont granite, featured a massive four-story square tower over the entrance way at the north end, balanced by a three-story rounded tower to the south. The overall design was Romanesque Revival, later known as Richardsonian Romanesque in honor of its chief practitioner, Henry Hobson Richardson. Richardson had three structures underway in Chicago at the time including the Marshall Field Wholesale Store, and large homes for Franklin MacVeagh on North Lake Shore Drive, and the Glessner House at 1800 S. Prairie Avenue.
However, if you go history hunting now, you're going to come up empty handed:
The house fell to the wrecker’s ball two years later, in 1969. Today the site is part of a large townhouse development known as Michigan Avenue Gardens, constructed in 1998. Peck’s house may be gone, but his greatest achievement – the Auditorium – is his lasting and enduring legacy to his beloved city of Chicago.
Anyway a fun read for people who are interested in the history of the neighborhood.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Burger Bar Shooting for End of Year Opening? Massage Place Looking to Open in Spring

Picture of Burger Bar Build Out at 1160 S. Michigan
From a reader:
Per Columbian (1160 S Michigan) owners' meeting:
1. We were told Burger Bar reportedly aiming for opening by end of year - electrical meter getting installed soon, they also are negotiating with Columbian about canopies and signage. (Seems like they would need time to do hiring and training? Perhaps they meant they'd start hiring, moving in equipment then?) I'll try to peek inside and get a picture if I can this evening.
2. Massage place in the Columbian's other retail space is looking at March opening. Just starting construction.
Seems aggressive for the Burger Bar, but looking forward to trying them out.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Updates From Mayoral Panel Tasked With Improving Access To/From Museum Campus

A bus drives on the private 'busway' through Grant Park next to the 11th Street Metra Stop (via google maps)
Back in the summer, Mayor Emmanuel announced that he was seeking ideas to improve access to and from the Museum Campus.  Crain's has an update from the mayoral panel who is working on this project:
A mayoral panel has recommended some intermediate steps to make it easier to get to the city's Museum Campus, which draws millions of people a year but has little public transit.  
But the group, picked by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, has put off for further study more significant but also much more expensive proposals, such as expanding and better using what now is a private busway between the Loop and McCormick Place and potentially building a rapid line along Cermak Road that would connect the lakefront to the commuter railroad stations. " 
There's a lot of low-hanging fruit here, some things we can do now," Chicago Transportation Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld said in a phone interview. The initial recommendations approved by the city task force "will have some impact," she said, but it's too soon to say if the bigger ideas are feasible.  
Short term, the panel urged the city to expand the Divvy bicycle sharing program in and around the campus and establish a trolley bus service like the one that went to Navy Pier for many years. No cost estimates are available, but officials said such a system briefly operated about a decade ago, and museum chiefs are interested in restoring it.  
The group also gave the green light to: improved pickup and drop-off zones, more cab stands, better traffic management and perhaps establishing a coordinated transit center and welcome center near 18th Street.
While nothing being implemented is a game changer, the idea about better utilizing the "busway" between the Loop and McCormick Place is interesting and could be a big deal:
Longer term, Scheinfeld said the group, which is chaired by Metropolitan Planning Council chief MarySue Barrett and Emanuel's chief operating officer, Joe Deal, is quite interested in expanding use of the private busway that now runs along Metra tracks from Randolph Street to McCormick Place.

The busway is limited to transporting conventioneers but could be extended south to 31st Street, near the proposed new Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts. Convention officials have expressed some concern about but "are open to further discussion of this," Scheinfeld said.

The biggest potential fix—but one which likely would cost at least hundreds of millions of dollars—would be to revive a portion of the never-built Central Area Circulator system, which would have provided a light-rail system from Navy Pier and the Near North Side, west to the commuter railroad stations and then east to the lakefront.
Stay tuned, this could get interesting.

(Hat tip: TO!)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Aurielo's Now Looking to Open in April; Will Feature Huge 100 Seat Patio

Last we heard, Aurielo's was shooting for a January 2015 opening for their flagship Pizza restaurant at the southwest corner of Michigan and Roosevelt.  Now it sounds like it's going to be pushed back slightly longer, but did provide some more details on the project (including the rendering above  - via Eater Chicago):
Management's aiming for an April opening at 1212 S. Michigan Ave., according to a restaurant spokesman. The 5,000-square-foot restaurant will have two levels, 180 seats and an 100-seat outdoor patio. Aurelio's applied for its liquor license and outdoor patio permit on Thursday. Expect an expanded version of a menu familiar to South Siders, as well as more — you guessed it — craft beer selections made available to wash down your slices.
It looks pretty nice and definitely a major upgrade to this prime corner retail space.  It's also slightly comical that the second floor patio will be right in front of the Snap Fitness windows.  Nothing more motivating for people on treadmills, then watching people scarf down pizza.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Get Your Sloopin Hat-Tip T-Shirt!

The new Sloopin "Hat Tip" T-shirts are here and for those of you who have recently submitted tips or published posts you're now officially eligible to get your t-shirt. If you see your initials below, please send an email to to let us know you're going to go to Well Future Pharmacy (1442 S. Michigan) to redeem your shirts:
  • AR
  • SH
  • MK
  • WM
  • GL
  • RV
  • DW
  • JZ
  • MK
  • SN
  • CR
  • GM
  • PB
  • BE
  • TC
  • JG
  • SM
  • SS
  • MK
  • JL
  • JB
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  • MG
  • MH
  • PB
  • CR
  • RJ
  • SH
  • BR
  • SR
  • JM
  • MP
  • DW
  • KW
  • KM
  • AR
  • MP
  • CD
If this post doesn't mean anything to you and you're like "Wha?!?!? click here for some background on the Sloopin Hat Tip program. 

Thanks again for all the tips, photos, suggestions and whatnot. Without you Sloopin wouldn't exist!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Apartment High-rise at 1001 S. State Officially Moving Forward

Sounds like things are finally moving forward for another high-rise in the Sloop (via Chicago Real Estate Daily):
Rendering of High-rise at 9th and State (via CRED)
Golub & Co. has teamed up with the owner of the Block 37 mixed-use complex to build a 41-story apartment high-rise in the South Loop, joining the pack of developers putting up multifamily towers in the city. 
The joint venture between Chicago-based Golub and Los Angeles-based CIM Group has begun work on the 397-unit project at 1001 S. State St., which will cost about $130 million to build, said Golub President and CEO Michael Newman. The venture is moving forward before lining up a construction loan but is in talks with lenders interested in financing the development and probably will have a loan lined up in the next month or so, he said.
Beyond this confirmation, it was also nice to read about the reason CIM chose this location/project:
As for the South Loop, the neighborhood “possesses the attributes that fit CIM's longstanding investment model, one that focuses on urban districts positioned for economic expansion with solid infrastructure and transportation networks,“ CIM Principal Avi Shemesh said in a statement.
While the building doesn't really leave a lasting impression on us, it's better than a parking lot (IMHO).

We can confirm that equipment is present at the site and looks to be beginning the prep work.

For some background please check-out some older Sloopin posts:

Maggie Daley Skating Ribbon Opens Saturday at Northeastern Corner of Grant Park

Maggie Daily Park (via Chicago Tribune)
To cap off our (impromptu) civic project week coverage here at Sloopin, we're venturing slightly out of the Sloop to the northeastern corner of Grant Park and the new Maggie Daley park.  Yes, it's not in the South Loop but it's definitely close and probably worth a trip if you have kids or like to ice skate.

The Tribune reports:
The public will get its first look at the new Maggie Daley Park when the meandering quarter-mile long ice skating ribbon opens to the public at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, the Chicago Park District announced.  
The skating ribbon is the first attraction to open at the $55 million downtown park named in honor of Chicago's beloved former first lady who died in 2011. The park stretches from Randolph Street south to Monroe Street and from Columbus Drive east to Lake Shore Drive and is connected by the BP Bridge to Millennium Park.  
Admission to the ice skating ribbon, which slopes and circles around two climbing walls, will be free. There will be a $12 fee to rent skates, just like Millennium Park next door.
As a former hockey player who likes to lace it up occasionally and skate at the Millenium Park ice rink, a quarter mile skating ribbon sounds interesting (even though it seems slightly silly to have two public skating facilities so close to each other).

The article goes on to talk about other components of the park (such as a climbing wall and 120,000 square foot "play garden" for kids) which all sound pretty interesting.  The grand opening of all the entire park is scheduled for Spring 2015.

See you on the skating ribbon!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Checking Out the New Grant Park Skate Park

Continuing our civic project week, we thought we would revisit the recently opened Grant Park Skate Park.  As you may have read, the new Grant Park Skate Park officially opened this past Saturday (12/6).

While the neighborhood sentiment seems to be mixed, we here at Sloopin thought it was a nice addition but were slightly curious to see if/how many people would use it.

As a result, we went by on Sunday (the day after it was officially open) to check out the scene and this is what we found:
Frankly we were pretty surprised to see so many people out there and the level of skill involved.  We assume the good turnout is because it was the second day the park was open, but nonetheless still pretty impressive.
Beyond that the other big question that stood out after watching this for a little bit was who is liable if someone gets hurt here.  We assume there is precedent for things/places like this, but it seems like someone is definitely going to get seriously hurt out here (OK, clearly I'm not a skater and clearly I'm old, but damn this looks dangerous). 
Anyway, after pondering this for a minute we headed to the entrance and found the "rules":
I guess that's enough coverage for the city to prevent liability?  Also, we didn't look that hard, but definitely didn't see many people with helmets on.  To each their own...
Anyway, it's also probably worth posting this entertaining video that was professionally produced for the opening of the park:
Yay for tricks!  Yay for drone camera's providing fun ariel videos!  and yay for young people doing fun and dangerous stuff for our viewing pleasure!  

The Chicago Firehouse Restaurant Releases Statement on Fire; Says it Will Rebuild!

Below, please find a statement from The Chicago Firehouse Restaurant.
"Given the unfortunate circumstance of The Chicago Firehouse Restaurant fire on Wednesday, December 10, 2014, we are extremely grateful to report the most significant fact: our co-workers and neighbors are all safe. The Chicago Firehouse Restaurant team is family to us, as many have been loyal employees since we opened our doors 15 years ago. The well being of our co-workers and the community continues to be our primary concern. We owe a debt of gratitude to the Chicago Fire and Police Departments. Their tireless effort secured the structure and protected our neighbors. The Chicago Firehouse Restaurant has been a cornerstone of the South Loop community, and together we have developed a gathering place that gives us great pride. We are energized by our neighbors and local businesses and sincerely appreciate their concern, support and loyalty. We owe it to our history, our team and our community to preserve this treasured Chicago landmark which will remain a cornerstone of the South Loop neighborhood. Without hesitation or reservation we will rebuild! We have an unwavering commitment to our dedicated employees and all those who have patronized us so faithfully. We look forward to serving you again soon." --Matthew O'Malley, The Chicago Firehouse Restaurant

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Chicago Firehouse Restaurant Has "Extra-Alarm" Fire

In a developing, ironic and unfortunate story, it sounds like the venerable Chicago Firehouse Restaurant had a serious fire (via Chicago Tribune):
Part of the roof of a well-known South Loop restaurant collapsed during an extra-alarm fire Wednesday morning.

Flames shot through the roof of Chicago Firehouse, 1401 S. Michigan Ave., when a blaze erupted about 10:30 a.m., according to the Chicago Fire Department.

Roofers who were doing repairs “had an accident,’’ said Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford who was on the scene.

“Before they could extinguish the fire it got into the building,’’ Langford said.

Everyone inside was able to escape safely but flames were still shooting from the roof as of about 11:10 a.m., Langford said.

We've received a lot of emails from readers with pictures and whatnot.  A reader (SH) sent us a variety of videos and pictures at this link.  Below are some additional pics that people sent:

(Hat tip:  AR, SH, MK, WM, GL, R!)

Sloopin (Michigan Ave) Retail Roundup: Openings & Closings

Walking down Michigan Avenue has exposed some new retail happenings.

If you recall, a couple readers noted that Rock'N'Nails looked to be opening at the southwest corner of Michigan Ave and Cullerton.  We wondered why and how so many nail/saloon places open in our neighborhood (especially on Michigan).  Well apparently they are already open:
In other retail news just up the street, it appears that two other clothing stores are shuttering.  First off is Haus of Reign, which is pretty bare inside and had signs outside saying there was a liquidation sale going on, looks to be closing:

Haus of Reign opened at 1345 S. Michigan in June of 2013.

Up the street at 1317 S. Michigan, Flirtatious Lingerie and Clubwear also appears to be closing and having a liquidation sale as well:

This is also next door to the recently closed kiddie clothing store Put It On at 1319 S. Michigan.

Moral of the story, if you are contemplating opening a business on South Michigan it appears that it will be a rough go if you want to sell clothing.  On the other hand, apparently there is a lot of demand for pampering...

Business counter is updated.