Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Motor Row Gallery Announces Dates for it's Second Pop-up Art Exhibition PHENOMENA

This is so strange (U-Haul meets pop-up art exhibition...wha?!?!?!) , but yet captivating to us:
Motor Row Gallery is pleased to announce its second pop-up art exhibition PHENOMENA featuring an eclectic mix of regional artists working in sculpture, found object assemblage, painting, works on paper and mixed media. Focusing on extraordinary occurrences in theme and process from the artist’s conception to the viewer’s perception – PHENOMENA centers in our minds and fuels our imaginations.  
SHOW DATES: March 13 – April 12, 2015
OPENING RECEPTION: Friday March 13, 5-9pm
Saturday March 14, 3-7pm
Sunday March 15, 12-5pm  
Motor Row Gallery
2345 S. Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL
HOURS: Monday - Saturday 9am-3pm

For more information check-out their twitter or facebook pages.

Does that mirror lady piece remind you of something that you would see in a Daft Punk video?

(Hat tip:  SW!)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Blinded by the (Essex Inn) Sign?

A reader writes:
Not necessarily ever a "Breath of fresh air on Grant Park," has anyone else noticed in the last few days this monstrosity of a sign? The illumination has been greatly enhanced to where it appears to be twice the brightness of the Congress Hotel sign and, dare I say, ever more intrusive than Trump. 
I have sent a complaint to the Mayor's office and hope some action will be taken. Perhaps others will address their complaints, as well.
(Hat tip:  RC!)

Monday, January 26, 2015

Historic Prairie Avenue Home to the Top 5 Highest Selling Homes in 2014

Highest Selling Home in 2014?  1841 S. Pairie Ave
(via Redfin)
As you probably are aware, real estate tends to be a hot topic in the South Loop.  With that said, the fine peeps at redfin sent us an email we thought people might be interested in:
Now that 2014 is over, it’s time to take stock. What were the highest selling homes in the Sloopin coverage area? What can it tell you about the make-up and the market in the Sloop? 
So, here we go! Unsurprisingly, all five homes were on Prairie Avenue. 
1. 1841 S Prairie Ave. A single family home in the Near South Side, this 5-bed, 5-bath home is covered in marble and includes all the bells and whistles you’d expect at this price-point. It sold for $1.75M. 
2. 1831 S Prairie Ave. Practically next door to the top-ranking home, this far more modest single-family row home fetched $1.62M and sold before print. Located across from the Chicago Women’s Park and Gardens, this home is on a decidedly elegant, historic street. 
3. 1211 S Prairie Ave, #2901. Located in the Signature Tower at Museum Park, this corner unit on the 29th floor includes spectacular views and an incredible (for a condo) 2,924 square feet. It sold for a whopping $1.616M. 
A million dollar view from 1201 S. Prairie #4901 (via Redfin)
4. 1211 S Prairie Ave, #5101. While photos are no longer available, this 51st floor unit in the Signature Tower includes two parking spaces, north and east views, and 9-foot ceilings with floor-to-ceiling windows. It sold for $1.6M. 
5. 1201 S Prairie Ave, #4901. Located in The Grant, this unit had been on and off the market since 2006. This unit sold for $1.545M, but the listing mainly touts the building’s amenities, not the unit’s. With HOA dues of $1,370/month, residents are going to demand high-quality building amenities.

While the most expensive homes don’t necessarily reflect the taste of everyone in the neighborhood, aspirational homes often represent the ethos of a neighborhood. Where do people most want to live? What is priced most highly? And why?

I think the answer to their questions is simply achieved by just clicking through some of the pictures from those listings.

(Hat tip:  AS!)

Chicago Firehouse Restaurant Fire Causes Preservation Organization to Increase Efforts to Prevent Future Fires

Image for Chicago Firehouse Restaurant after Fire
(via Chicago Talks)
Some good may come from the fire at The Chicago Firehouse restaurant back in December (via
A fire at a South Loop firehouse-turned-restaurant in early December has prompted Landmarks Illinois, a nonprofit preservation organization, to beef up its efforts to prevent future fires caused by construction-related accidents in historic buildings. 
The extra-alarm fire on 1401 S. Michigan Ave. was contained but caused heavy damage. 
Evanston resident Duane Yost, who was at the scene of the fire, recalls water rapidly flooding out of the building as firefighters fought to contain the flames. The fire was devastating to the structure, causing the restaurant to temporarily close for business. Everyone was evacuated from the structure safety, but firefighters were unable to keep the roof from caving in.

So what is the nonprofit trying to do?  The article sums it up:
Lisa DiChiera, director of advocacy for Landmarks Illinois said fires like the one at the Firehouse are a recurring problem for owners of many historic buildings who hire contractors who aren’t cautious enough when working on historic premises. Landmarks Illinois is looking into revisiting this problem and coming up with a possible policy to help prevent any future disasters.  
The organization hopes to possibly meet with Illinois State Fire Marshal and also talk to owners of historic buildings about hiring the right type of contractors. They’ve talked to Illinois Sen. Pamela Althoff previously McHenry mayor, who was unavailable for comment at this time.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Friday, January 23, 2015

Quack Quack: Duck Boats Potentially Coming to the Sloop

Duck boat entering waterway in Wisconsin Dells (via Tribune)
According to the Chicago Tribune:
Duck boat tours could be coming to the Chicago River as soon as this summer. 
Entertainment Cruises, a cruise operator based at Navy Pier, submitted a proposal to guide tours on the boats, which run on land and water. The company operates more than 30 ships in cities across the country. 
"With this you get the best of both worlds," said Dan Russell, vice president and general manager for Entertainment Cruises. "It showcases all of the best that Chicago has, which is formidable, obviously. We think it will be a fun package."

Duck boats do not look like ducks. The bulky, amphibious vessels were once used by the U.S. military in World War II. Since then, duck boat tours have gained popularity in places like Boston, Seattle and the Wisconsin Dells. The Boston tours have served as a model for Chicago, Russell said.

So you may be asking, "what does this have to do with the Sloop?", well apparently one of the entry or exit points from the Chicago River would be near Polk Street:
Construction for the new duck boat endeavor could begin as soon as Jan. 28, when the review process by state regulators is scheduled to be completed, Russell said. 
The boats, which hold 37 passengers, require special ramps to enter and exit the Chicago River. Under the proposal, the ramps would be constructed at Marina Towers and West Polk Street. The Marina Towers ramp would be 25 feet wide by 73 feet long, and the West Polk Street ramp would be 20 feet by 73 feet. The latter would be constructed by modifying an abutment at the former Polk Street Bridge, Russell said.
The article doesn't say anything about routes or whatnot, but if this moves forward expect to see some ducks on Sloop streets.

(Hat tip:  PO & SC!)

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Levelz Style Lounge Replaces Flirtatious Lingerie and Club Wear at 1317 S. Michigan

Looks like Flirtatious Lingerie and Club Wear closed down to make way for a re-concepting and will now be Levelz Style Lounge at 1317 S. Michigan:

If you recall, Flirtatious had a liquidation sale back in December 2014.

(Hat tip:  JH!)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Grateful Dead to Play Three 50th-Anniversary Shows at Soldier Field Over 4th of July Weekend

In case you missed this last week, one of the bigger music stories/shows will be taking place in our back yard (via Billboard):
In a match made in hippie heaven, Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio will join the four living original members of The Grateful Dead for three 50th-anniversary shows July 3-5 at Soldier Field in Chicago. The Dead's last performance with Jerry Garcia, who died in August 1995, was at the same 55,000-seat capacity venue on July 9, 1995. 
The sense of closure is no ­accident: These shows are likely to be the finale for the "core four," as the ­surviving members are now known: Bob Weir, 67; Phil Lesh, 74; Mickey Hart, 71; and Bill Kreutzmann, 68. "These will be the last shows with the four of us together," Weir tells Billboard.

And while this show might not appeal to everyone (and probably not a lot of Sloopsters) it was a pretty big get for Chicago:
Competition to land the coveted booking was stiff, with such players as Goldenvoice's Paul Tollett and Live Nation mounting efforts to reunite the Dead at venues like the Empire Polo Grounds in Indio, Calif., the site of Coachella, and Bonnaroo (the latter, according to sources, offered the band $3 million for a headlining set -- and was rejected). It helped that Shapiro has an exclusive contract with Lesh and co-owns three Brooklyn Bowl locations (Las Vegas and London opened in 2014) that are favorites of jam bands, as well as the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, N.Y., where Anastasio previously had joined Weir onstage.

While many "Dead Heads" are now in their golden years, something tells us that the scene over 4th of July weekend is going to be epic and probably pretty "different".

However, it's not like our neighborhood isn't familiar with this type of thing.  After all, Lollapalooza brings a different atmosphere to the neighborhood, as does the upstart EDM festival Spring Awakening which is also at Soldier Field.  Even Phish had a three night sold-out stint at Northerly Island last year.

Net net, this is a big deal for many people and should be fun to see how big of a spectacle this ends up being.

If you're not a Dead fan and want to get a sense of what the music is like click here for a youtube video from their last show before Jerry Garcia (lead singer and guitarist) passed away.

(Hat tip:  BE & TM!)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Crain's: Residential developers have big plans (again) for South Loop

If you're a loyal reader of Sloopin, this real estate trend probably doesn't come as a surprise (see Sloopin yearend trend on the topic), but nonetheless it's always worth noting when one of the larger media outlets in the city/region writes about it.  

In an article that feels reminiscent of the build-baby-build 00's Crains touches on a myriad of current and future projects that could change the neighborhood as we know it.  As a starter, the image from them below touches on all the buildings mentioned in the article:  

The article opens with some high optimism for the Sloop:
It's back to the future in the South Loop, as developers engage in a land rush reminiscent of the heady years before the recession. 
A recent flurry of dealmaking could bring new high-rises with thousands of apartments and condominiums to the east bank of the Chicago River just south of downtown. Leading the charge is Chicago-based residential developer CMK, which has acquired one vacant riverside parcel and is buying two others between Congress Parkway and Roosevelt Road, collectively one of the biggest tracts of undeveloped land within walking distance of the Loop. 
The deals reflect a growing optimism among developers that the apartment boom is far from over and the condo market's comeback is kicking into a higher gear.

It goes on to talk about all of the projects going on and even resurfaces the clybourn corridor talk again, calling this "clybourn south":
Developers have coveted the area for a long time, but only a few major projects got off the ground during the last boom. The biggest was the Roosevelt Collection, an apartment-retail complex with a 14-screen movie theater. Though it ran into loan trouble after the bust, the project has rebounded and become a key neighborhood amenity, boosting Roosevelt Road's status as a shopping strip on par with North and Clybourn avenues on the North Side. “It's now Clybourn South,” DeVries says.

Again, this isn't new talk, but just nice to see some optimism for the area.

Probably the most interesting thing in the article was an update on the infamous "Rzeko Lot":
Beyond the fate of the Old Post Office across the river, the biggest question for the neighborhood is what will happen to a vacant 62-acre riverside property just south of Roosevelt Road. During the boom, Antoin “Tony” Rezko, a key fundraiser for imprisoned former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, proposed a shopping center and as many as 4,600 homes for the property. That plan died after a Rezko venture sold the site to General Mediterranean Holding, a Luxembourg-based conglomerate owned by British billionaire Nadhmi Auchi.  
GMH has not unveiled plans for the property, testing the patience of city officials, who want the site developed. Last April, the City Council gave the city the authority to buy the site, through eminent domain if necessary, with the hope of prodding GMH into action.  
“We need to put some pressure on the owner,” says Ald. Daniel Solis, 25th, whose ward includes the neighborhood.  
“We stand ready to work with the city of Chicago on an appropriate development for the property and the neighborhood,” GMH spokesman Ryan McLaughlin says.
That gigantic swath of land probably has the most opportunity to drastically change the face of the neighborhood (unless a development over the train tracks just west of Lake Shore Drive gets going).

It's clear the city sees this as an important piece to the evolution of the South Loop.  Remember they also have plans to create the Wentworth/Wells connector which would provide access to this land.

Moral of the story is there is a ton of development going on in the neighborhood.  What does everyone think?  Good?  Bad?  Wait and see?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Burger Bar Opening Thursday; Owner Confirms Two Other South Loop Projects at 800 S. Clark

Last week we posted that Burger Bar at 1160 S. Michigan was going to open in the next couple of weeks.

Well apparently it's opening this week, on Thursday (1/22), according to an article in Chicago Magazine.  While this is great and all, what might be even more interesting is that it sounds like the brains behind the operation is excited about the Sloop and opening two more spots in the hood:
Hot on the hooves of the second Burger Bar, McLean is targeting a July 1 opening for an unnamed pair of projects at 800 South Clark Street, a coffee shop and a Mediterranean small-plates spot. The 15- to 20-seat coffee shop will make its own doughnuts and pastries and serve panini and salads at lunch. Inspired by a recent trip to Barcelona, McLean plans the wood-fired Spanish flatbreads called cocas, wood-roasted meats, plancha-cooked prawns and razor clams, and paella at the 125-seat Mediterranean restaurant. “It will be really robust food,” he says.
For those not familiar with the space at 800 S. Clark street we presume it's the retail space at the recently completed and opened AMLI lofts.  Here is a rendering from a listing on Loopnet:
Retail space at AMLI lofts at the corner of Clark and Polk (via loopnet)
Sounds pretty exciting and good to hear more and more is coming to the neighborhood.

(Hat tip:  KR!)

And Now Some Powerful Inspiration for Dr. MLK Jr. Day

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Teacher at Near South Side Development Center Charged with Sexually Assaulting Two Studens

An unfortunate read this morning, but worth sharing (via Chicago Tribune):
A Chicago preschool teacher was charged with inappropriately touching two 3-year-old students’ genitals during nap-time and in a bathroom at a South Loop school.  
Jian Feng, 25, of the 2200 block South Princeton Avenue, was ordered held without bail Saturday in a Cook County court. He was charged with four counts of predatory criminal sexual assault, Class X felonies.  
Feng allegedly touched one of the girls in November in a bathroom at the school, said Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney Mary Hain. Surveillance video captured Feng and the child walking in and out of a bathroom at the school. Feng admitted to inappropriately touching her genitals because “his brain made him,” Hain said.  
In a second incident this month, he allegedly touched another girl’s genitals while she was lying down for a nap, Hain said. Surveillance video showed Feng with the girl. Feng pulled back her covers and reached into her pants, Hain said in court.  Feng told authorities he did it because he was “curious.”

Feng was arrested Friday after guardians of the children told authorities about the acts.  
According to school spokeswoman Kelly Anne Ohde Feng was a teacher at the Near South Side Development Center on the campus of the Easter Seals National Teachers Academy, 2214 S. Federal St. where the crimes occurred. He was removed from the school and, "will have no contact with the children."

Shots Around the Sloop: The Blue Demon

Construction has begun for the new DePaul/McPier arena:

(Hat tip: SR!)

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Bacci Pizza Express Apparently Closes at Roosevelt CTA Stop Entrance

Bacci Pizza Express at Roosevelt CTA Entrance
Well apparently nobody noticed (or probably cared) but it appears that the Bacci Pizza Express inside the Roosevelt CTA stop has closed.

We did notice a month or so back that it was closed, but for whatever reason didn't think much of it.  We chalked it up to them closing do to the construction at the stop.

This second time around we thought we would ask one of the CTA attendants.  They promptly responded, "Man...they've been closed for about 3 months".  Acting like he was surprised I didn't know that.

Anyway, looks like we'll have to revise our 2014 business counter.

In other news, what type of business could work here?  A more upscale food option, Butterfield Kitchen, preceded Bacci, but quickly closed as well.

Any suggestions?  Should we move the Sloopin headquarters here?