Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Sloop Seemed Poised to Land Amazon's HQ2 if Chicago Had Won

The news that Chicago didn't win the Amazon HQ2 corporate sweepstakes is relatively stale, but a new piece in Crain's points to some juicy new details about the bid.  One of the most interesting items for us Sloopsters was that "The 78" seemed to be the preferred location for the Amazon team:
In the end, Amazon wanted to look only at one site, the 78. Insiders have whispered for months that the company really liked that location, which effectively is raw, undeveloped land, but located near the central business district and the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Amazon made two trips here, not three, according to both Rivkin and the emails. Both visits included a mix of wandering around sites and looking at surrounding amenities, such as the Museum Campus, Soldier Field and Chinatown.

As we stated back in June we thought this site might tickle their fancy.  So I guess we can take some pride in "reading the tea leaves".  (sigh...)

Another interesting tidbit was a piece about U of C:
Chicago offered some intriguing little things in the response to Amazon's request for information. Included were promises that the University of Chicago would open a second campus of its renowned elementary and secondary Lab School near the HQ2 site, the Chicago Transit Authority would offer an Amazon-branded transit card for company workers, and “concierge” service in the city’s Building Department would be available for the company to reduce red tape on construction jobs and for its employees to be able to do the same on home-related work.
The article also says that Chicago was one of the "final five competitors".  Yay?!?!?!

What will become of the 78 is still an open question.  Could the development someday land an anchor corporate tenant?  It seemed primed for Amazon (sorry we had to do that).   

Monday, December 17, 2018

Wha?!?!?! Construction on Jane Bryne Interchange - a Major Artery for the City and Sloop - Will Go On For Another 4 Years!

In case you missed this doozy last week...all we gotta say is damn (via Chicago Tribune):
Drivers, be patient, and find alternate routes if you can. Work on the Jane Byrne Interchange will go on for another four years.
That’s the word from the Illinois Department of Transportation, which has been rebuilding what used to be known as the Circle Interchange or, informally, the “spaghetti bowl,” since 2014. The finish date for the project had originally been projected at 2019. IDOT now expects it to be complete in 2022.

IDOT engineers warn that the biggest impact to traffic is coming in the summer of 2020, when a major ramp will need to be closed. This is the ramp from the inbound Eisenhower Expressway to the northbound Kennedy Expressway, which sees 26,000 cars a day.

Why is the project taking so long? It involves three different interstates, a constricted urban area, working around the CTA Blue Line, multiple bridges, a city water pumping station and the need to keep traffic flowing in a spot that sees 400,000 vehicles every day, said Steve Travia, engineer for project implementation at IDOT.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Fatpour at Cermak/Indiana Opens its Doors!

Looks like Fatpour  on the corner of Indiana and Cermak is ready to open:

As a reminder, we first posted about this in February of this year.  Since then there has been some considerable momentum for this up and coming area of the neighborhood.

(Hat tip: EH!)

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Neighborhood Infrastructure Updates: Canadian National Railway Repairs & Traffic Light at 21st/Indiana


Looks like the railroad line that runs just north of 16th street is getting some much needed repairs (via Gazette):
The Canadian National Railway (CN) will complete preliminary utility work and then, in early 2019, will start reconstructing overpasses at Michigan and Wabash Avenues as well as State, Dearborn, and Clark Streets.

While some may be disappointed that the line isn't closing down, there are some benefits to this work.  Alderman Dowell weighs in:
Dowell said she held two community meetings about the project, and noted the railroad has been open to community concerns.
“I was surprised to learn that the rail line was over 100 years old,” Dowell said. “The investment needs to happen. There will be improvements in the lighting underneath the bridges, and the neighborhood will be more friendly to traffic as well as to pedestrians.”

Dowell said that changing the look and feel of the trains as well as the bridges will make the growing South Loop neighborhoods more appealing. In addition to the bridges, she said the railroad will reduce train noise and vibration in densely populated areas by moving an idling station further from residential buildings.

The Gazette article also points to a new a stop light going in at the intersection of 21st and Indiana given the influx of activity around Wintrust Arena.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Nike Force Store Pops-Up at 9th and Wabash

If you're a sneakerhead you may already know this, but it appears a Nike Force pop-up store is up and running at 9th and Wabash.  This picture was snapped this past Saturday and there was a line around the corner (which is hard to see in this pic):

We couldn't find much online.  Does anyone have any info?

Monday, December 10, 2018

Some Crazy Beautiful Pics at the New NEMA Rental Building


Some beautiful new shots from the NEMA rental building rising high above our city at Roosevelt and Indian (via Curbed):
After quietly breaking ground nearly two years ago, the 893-foot apartment tower known as NEMA Chicago has grown to dominate downtown’s southern skyline. The still-growing project has already claimed the title of the city’s tallest rental building as it continues its skyward climb along the southern edge of Grant Park. 
Although the Rafael ViƱoly-designed project isn’t expected to open until next year, a handful of new images offer a first look inside the building’s 800 units and 70,000 square feet of amenity space.

The renderings include shots of an outdoor terrace, an indoor resident lounge, a corner apartment unit, and NEMA’s south-facing pool that juts out slightly beyond the building’s facade.



Friday, December 7, 2018

CPS CEO Commits to Strengthening Existing High School Options Instead of New South Loop Neighborhood

More news on the future of a neighborhood high school (via SunTimes):
Chicago Public Schools will come up with another plan to give residents of the Near South Side quality high school options now that National Teachers Academy won’t be closed and converted into a high school, CEO Janice Jackson said Wednesday.

“I want to publicly state that we are committed to exploring ways to strengthen the existing high school options in the Near South community and we will be working collaboratively with the residents to do just that,” Jackson told the Chicago Board of Education. She did not offer any details.

The words existing high school is likely to rub many South Loop residents the wrong way.

The article goes onto say:
When Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Ald. Pat Dowell had championed the new school, promised to Chinatown residents, they noted how few families in the area considered Phillips High School a viable option for their children, though that’s their assigned neighborhood high school. Phillips, home to just about 750 students now, holds CPS’ second-lowest rating but has made improvements in the last few years.
Dunbar High School in Bronzeville enrolls just about 300 students in its career and technical programs open citywide. Its building at 3000 S. King Drive could hold several times that number of kids.
We will see.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Italian Restaurant - Il Culaccino - Plans Spring Opening in Motor Row Area

Some more good restaurant news for the Motor Row entertainment district (via Eater Chicago):
Diners near McCormick Place are getting yet another new food option, as the owners of Bridgeport favorite Franco’s Ristorante are working towards opening a fine dining Italian restaurant in the South Loop. Il Culaccino is a 225-seater pegged for a spring opening at 2138 S. Indiana Avenue, inside the 35-story Arrive Lex Tower apartment building. It’s more good news for convention goers and locals in a neighborhood with a limited number of restaurants.
Franco’s has served Italian food since 1986 in Bridgeport. It’s owned by the Ruffolo family and in 2016 they remodeled their then-27-year-old restaurant. They own three more restaurants: Franco’s at the Fountain in Millennium Park, Franconello Italian Restaurant in the Beverly, and Jam ‘n Honey in Lincoln Park/DePaul.
The area has seen a wave of new restaurants and shops coming to the area.  Succezz, Vu Rooftop Bar, Starbucks, Pizano's Pizza are some of the new places that are popping up in the area.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

COPA Investigating Incident with Police and Young Man at Roosevelt Stop

An incident from Thanksgiving weekend at the Roosevelt red line station (via SunTimes and The Grio):
A Chicago police officer caught on cellphone video repeatedly striking a teen with handcuffs is now being investigated by the city’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability.
According to The Chicago Sun Times, during Thanksgiving weekend, officers tried to detain a teen boy as he peacefully waited for a train at a South Loop commuter train station, because they believed he matched the description of a robbery subject.

When the young man allegedly threatened the officers by clenching his fists and flailing his arms, that’s when they say they performed a “take down” on the suspect, who was later identified as 16-year old Skyler Miller.

Miller, who attends Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy, was arrested but later released without being charged because the officers failed to get statements from the victims of the alleged robbery.

Here is the video if you're inclined to watch:

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Judge Halts Plans to Convert National Teachers Academy into South Loop High School

Yesterday we posted about the impending ruling from a judge and here is the update (via SunTimes):
Hours after a Cook County judge on Monday granted a preliminary order to block Chicago Public Schools’ contentious conversion of the National Teachers Academy to a high school, schools officials backed down, saying they won’t appeal the ruling.
That means NTA will remain an elementary school and will not be converted into a new high school serving the rapidly growing South Loop — a school that was supposed to open this fall. NTA will keep its regional gifted center, and high school boundaries that changed to make room for the new high school that would also serve Chinatown and Bridgeport will change back to what they had been in the past.
Congrats to all the families, teachers and students who fought hard for this decision.

What remains up in the air is what the solution is for a South Loop neighborhood high school:
It’s not clear how CPS now will make sure those neighborhoods have “a high quality neighborhood high school,” which Passman said remained a “top priority,” or what will happen with the millions that had been allocated for the conversion championed by Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd) and outgoing Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
We'll see.

Monday, December 3, 2018

1407 S. Michigan is HOT HOT HOT!

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Best of all, there is abundant, gorgeous outdoor space that is not usually found in in-city living buildings. Incredible outdoor pool deck featuring grills, fire pits, cabanas and, of course, unsurpassed beautiful lake views. Garage parking is available for $275. Pets are welcome!

Chance the Rapper Pens Article on Plans to Close National Teachers Academy

Chance the Rapper pens article on plans to close National Teachers Academy (partial blurb from Tribune):
During the last school year, CPS decided to close NTA as an elementary school, so that its building can be used for a new high school. CPS made the decision despite NTA’s educational successes and despite unwavering objections from the NTA community.

Through its affordable after-school activities, community health clinic and senior recreation center, NTA has figured out that the key to providing a successful educational experience is collaboration with the community. NTA has become more than just a building — it’s a village. NTA parents, teachers and students are battling to keep this village.

Located at the former Harold Ickes public housing project, NTA’s students are 80 percent African-American, and 76 percent fall below the poverty line. Over the last five years, NTA has welcomed students from neighboring schools that have been shuttered. NTA is also a Level 1+ school, earning CPS’ highest school rating and outpacing 80 percent of students across the nation. The Illinois State Board of Education has called this accomplishment “commendable,” which is an understatement given the state’s history of inadequate public school funding, NTA’s past principal turnover and its initial school rating of 3 (which is CPS’ lowest school rating). This five-year turnaround is a testament to the teachers, parents and staff at NTA.

He finishes with a powerful statement:
It’s not too late for CPS to make the right decision and change course. This moment could set a precedent for future school closings and end the displacement in education that has plagued CPS history. In the fight for equal education, it is imperative that we all stand with NTA.