Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Police Issue Warning On Rash of Armed Robberies

Be mindful (via SunTimes):
Chicago police are warning residents about a series of recent robberies this weekend in the South Loop and Hyde Park neighborhoods.

Since Friday, a group of men driving a gray car have confronted people on sidewalks and demanded property, police said. One robber flashed a black semi-automatic handgun and the others battered victims.

The six robberies happened:

  • about 10:20 p.m. Sept. 14 in the 2300 block of South Wabash
  • about 3:14 a.m. Sept. 15 in the 5400 block of South Hyde Park
  • about 5:07 a.m. Sept. 15 in the 0 to 100 block of East 21st Street
  • about 5:18 a.m. Sept. 15 in the 2400 block of South Indiana
  • about 7:11 a.m. Sept. 15 in the 0 to 100 block of East 21st Street
  • about 7:09 a.m. Sept. 15 in the 2300 block of South Wabash

Monday, September 17, 2018

Bears Kickoff Home 2018 Season Tonight on Monday Night Football

As a reminder, it's the first Bears home game of the season tonight (they're on Monday Night Football).  The game starts at 7:15pm, so be prepared for a painful commute home - especially if you drive.

Despite some of the inconveniences of living by Soldier Field, we're pretty pumped for tonights game (and this season).  While the opening loss at Lambeau Field to the Packers last week was a punch in the gut, the Bears showed signs about the potential this team has.

Heres to hoping we have some meaningful games with playoff ramifications in the Sloop this season.  Bear Down!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

A Cool Old Factory Converted to a Single Family Home

If you're a fan of seeing how other people decorate and design their houses, we highly suggest a look at this fun post on Curbed Chicago.  It's been on the interwebs for awhile, but showcases how a family took an old building in the Sloop and converted it into a beautiful home:
Almost immediately after Sarah and Jeff Klymson bought a small loft in Chicago’s South Loop in 2007, they began making plans to fulfill their grander vision of home.

Jeff, founding principal of architecture and design practice Collective Office, and Sarah, an architect and interior designer who works in the hospitality industry, dreamt of finding a freestanding building with a little outdoor space, something they could design themselves, grow into and that could serve as a base for Jeff’s firm. Though it was a tall order for the South Loop, it wasn’t impossible.

The two years the couple had planned on staying in the loft ballooned to seven, punctuated by regular hunts for available buildings in the neighborhood. Jeff says he would, on Sunday afternoons, open a real estate app and click on every listing around their then-home. Then, in the fall of 2014, seemingly out of nowhere, he happened upon a former factory, circa 1889, just three blocks away.
Nice work!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

1st Annual Printer's Row Art Fest Comes to Dearborn this Weekend

We've had a couple readers email us about this and upon more research it appears that this in fact is a thing and is happening this weekend:

It also appears that there are a good amount of artists signed-up, so looking forward to checking this one out.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

What's Going On With the Building Restoration at 21st and Calumet?

A reader writes:
Do you all happen to know anything about this building restoration? It’s the building on 21st and Calumet.
While we're not 100% sure, the last we heard on the subject was something we read in the Chicago Tribune awhile back:
A collaboration between the city, DePaul University and McPier aims to redevelop the historic Motor Row district into an entertainment destination. The project has been approved and will include a new 10,000-seat basketball arena for DePaul, the 1,200-room Marriott Marquis hotel at Cermak and Prairie Avenue, the rehabilitation of the American Book Co. building into meeting rooms and retail, and an additional data center.
We also found this article from the Chicago Architecture website that seems to corroborate this.

This area has seen a lot of activity recently and we're curious to see how it continues to grow.  Does anyone know if this is indeed the plan or if the plan has shifted?

(Hat tip:  JB!)

Friday, September 7, 2018

4th Times the Charm for River City Conversion to Apartments?

Is this saga over (via Chicagobusiness.com):
The fourth time appears to be the charm for efforts to convert River City condominiums to apartments.
Owners at the South Loop complex have voted to accept a $90.5 million offer for their 448 units.

That's less than three bids developer Marc Realty Capital made since early 2016 before the deals stalled or fell apart—but slightly richer than the pending offer of $89 million.

"I've got partners in this deal, so I can't comment," Marc Realty Capital principal David Ruttenberg said.

After an $81.4 million opening bid, a $92 million offer in early 2017 didn't get the minimum 75 percent vote from ownership required under Illinois condominium law; a revised $100 million offer was terminated in May by Marc Realty and financial partner Wolcott Group, which cited "significant deferred maintenance issues."

In the latest vote, 77.9 percent sided with accepting the offer, according to Kelly Elmore, an attorney for the condo association. She says the $90.5 million buyout proposal will be sweetened by $1 million if every last owner provides closing documents by the expected closing date, in about 90 days.

You would think this is the final nail in the coffin, but given the swirl on this deal who knows.

It seems interesting that Marc Realty had this much interest in the River City property.  Maybe it's the impending Wells/Wentworth connector and the new businesses coming to the old post office that they're hoping to cash in on.  There will be a lot more pedestrian traffic and activity in this area shortly.

(Hat tip: PB!)

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Wow! No 3rd Term for Mayor Rahm Emanuel

Just like that, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, has decided to not seek a third term.  It's a pretty surprising development that has apparently caught many off guard (via Chicago Tribune):
In a stunning decision, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Tuesday morning that he will no longer seek a third term in office, signaling the end to what has been a tumultuous – and at times transformative – eight years in office.
While Rahm certainly could have handled a variety of issues better (we all could!) we viewed the Mayor in a positive light and have a hard time imagining someone else having the ability to "sell" the city as well as he did.  He was a champion of a vibrant downtown core and as far as we could tell a friend of the South Loop.  Back in 2015 we even found out he was a big fan of the architecture in Printers Row.

The impact of the surprising news won't truly be known for awhile.  One major question is the impact on the city's bid for Amazon's HQ2 - which if successful could mean massive development for one of the South Loop's most prominent vacant lots owned by Related Midwest.  Crain's and the Chicago Tribune both had articles that immediately discussed the potential ramifications.  Here is a pertinent blurb from the Tribune's article:
Dennis Donovan, principal at site selection consultant Wadley Donovan Gutshaw Consulting, said Emanuel is known for being an aggressive pitchman. “I don’t know anybody who could do it better,” he said. “He made it known Chicago was open for business.”
Donovan doubted Emanuel’s announcement would give a company like Amazon cold feet. Companies planning major projects like HQ2 are concerned about bigger-picture issues, like whether the city has enough talented workers to fill their ranks. “You can deal with a mayor that’s anti-business. You cannot deal with a subperforming labor market,” he said.

A city’s political leadership is only one factor a company like Amazon would consider in deciding where to build a major project like HQ2, said John H. Boyd, principal of The Boyd Co., a Princeton, N.J.-based corporate site selection consultancy. “Executives are very sophisticated. They understand politics is fluid and there’s no such thing as a mayor for life,” he said.

But having a high-profile “salesman-in-chief” like Emanuel can be very powerful when a city is in the process of courting a major project like HQ2, Boyd said.
So maybe the impact isn't a make or break, but at best it won't hurt Chicago.  In our opinion it certainly isn't helping.

Regardless, should be an interesting election and we are curious to see who will emerge as the next leader of our great city.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Condo Building at 1802 S. State Secures Loan

Looks like a (smaller) condo development is getting underway now that their loan is secured (via Real Deal):
Journey’s End Development has secured a construction loan for its planned 39-unit condominium building in the South Loop, a project that was allowed to begin earlier this summer.

Heartland Bank and Trust provided the $18 million loan for the four-story masonry property set to rise at 1802 South State Street, according to Cook County property records.

Colorado-based Journey’s End, whose portfolio also includes higher-end residential developments, is advertising one- to three-bedroom units for its lone Chicago property. Ten of the condos are already under contract, and the remaining 29 are listed between $390,000 and $545,000.

We first heard about this back in February of 2017.  We recently drove by this location and the building that was there was gone and seems like they're ready to roll.

Friday, August 31, 2018

How to Eat Cheaper at Two of the Sloop's Finest Restaurants

Eater Chicago explains how to eat cheaper at Chicago's finest restaurants and highlights two Sloop locations.

First up is obviously Acadia (1639 S. Wabash) - and if you're a reader of this here blog you probably already know this one:
In place of two-Michelin starred Acadia’s $155 eight-course new American tasting menu, hit up the bar for several similar plates at a lower price, a la carte. For example, Aleutian Islands King Crab with yuzu, parsley root, and a mint-nasturtium water becomes Peekytoe crab toast with scallion, garlic, butter, and arugula at the bar. Meanwhile, there’s also Stonington lobster with pickled mustard seed, celery, and caviar, which, at the bar becomes the Stonington, ME lobster roll.

Second is a good hack we weren't aware of at Everest (425 S. Financial Place):
While sky-high French boƮte Everest serves a $165 tasting menu, the hack is to come Tuesday to Friday at 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays between 5 and 5:30 p.m. for the three-course pre-theatre $59 special. That menu changes daily, and if diners drove, complimentary valet parking is also included.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Proposed South Loop Innovation Center - Discovery Partners Institute - Gets More Attention, But Details Still Lacking

As you know there has been a lot of attention given to Related's 62-acre vacant land just south of Roosevelt.  Whether it's discussion about a site for Amazon's HQ2 or audacious plans to build the city's "78th neighborhood" it's fodder for ripe discussion on the interwebs.

With that said, one of the other major undertakings being discussed for this land is the Discovery Partners Institute - which is billed as an innovation center in partnership with various major public and private institutions.  The hope is to accelerate Illinois and Chicago's place in the technology.

While the plans sound good, much of the detail is still TBD.  Over the past couple weeks, this topic has been in the news with the naming of a leader (via Herald):
The University of Illinois has picked one of its own professors to head an effort to build and operate a major innovation center in Chicago's South Loop.

William H. Sanders has led the engineering department at the university's Urbana-Champaign campus since 2014 and will oversee what's called the Discovery Partner's Institute. The Chicago Tribune reports those duties will include leading construction of the center, supervise all faculty and staff hiring and oversee all new corporate and academic partnerships.

Once it is operating, the center is expected to employ more than 100 faculty members who will specialize in research on computing and big data, environment and water, food and agriculture and health and wellness. School officials say the center will accommodate more than 2,000 students a year.

Additionally Crain's provides some info on lawmakers attempts to get more info:
The fog around Gov. Bruce Rauner’s planned South Loop tech hub led by University of Illinois lifted a little during a state Senate hearing yesterday, but there are plenty of details that still aren’t visible. Even some pieces that seem to be in place could disappear.
The $500 million for the Discovery Partners Institute that was part of the latest state budget appears real, if not yet complete. It has changed the trajectory of the project, said U of I President Tim Killeen, increasing interest from potential corporate partners, private donors and faculty. He said DPI has verbal commitments of more than $100 million in private funding, but he didn't provide details.

The majority of the state funding will be used for construction or renovation of facilities in Chicago and on various U of I campuses, university officials said. The most visible is likely to be the new facility that U of I hopes to build on a 62-acre development south of Roosevelt Road between Clark Street and the Chicago River that’s been proposed by Related Midwest.

Some of money also will be used to build or renovate facilities on other campuses, including Urbana-Champaign, UIC and Springfield, that are part of a virtual innovation network. But only about $150 million of the funding, which comes from Build Illinois bonds sold by the state, is in the bank. More money will come from a bond offering that could happen in October and future issues.

One thing is clear from the hearing: There is both considerable interest and concern about the project outside Chicago. Killeen and other U of I officials sought to reassure Sens. Chapin Rose, a Republican from Mahomet, and Scott Bennett, a Democrat from Champaign, that DPI isn’t a raid on the Urbana-Champaign campus, which also is expected to see some new funding from the $500 million appropriation for DPI.

This is one of those things that feels abstract and should be viewed with a heavy dose of skepticism.  In some respect, we wonder how closely this is or isn't tied to the Amazon HQ2 pitch.  One of the major critieria for Amazon was access to quality talent.  By potentially opening up this institute next door to HQ2 on paper could seem enticing.  While we're unsure if Amazon is the linchpin for Discovery Partners Institute (or could it be the reverse?) - the timing of the announcements have our eyebrows raised.

We shall see...