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!)

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Sloopin Open House:
What A $2 Million South Loop Condo Looks Like

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?
Ok.  So $2 Million is probably out of your price range (it is ours), but hey we've said it before and we will say it again - it's fun to look.

If that sounds intriguing to you, then head on over this Sunday (5/17) from noon to 2pm to Museum Park One (1211 S. Prairie Ave.).  This 3 bedroom / 3 bathroom unit is deluxe (even if the decor isn't that stylish)!  But let's be honest, you're really paying for the views at this place.  Essentially you have amazing and different views out of any and every window.

Anyway, you're probably not going to buy this place, but the doors are open this Sunday so stop on by.

Friday, May 15, 2015

A South Loop Squirrel Story

A reader writes:
The story of saving six baby squirrels from Cottontail Park in the South Loop this past weekend.

Pretty interesting and strange video.  We now know what a "rat king" is and it's not pretty:
(Hat tip:  JN!)

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Akhirah's Praline, Candy, Beignets & Coffee Shop Coming to New Retail Space at 1845 S. State

A reader writes:
I live in the south loop and was walking my dog the other day, and noticed this sign at 1845 S State:
We did some quick digging on the interwebs and couldn't find much, however our sweet tooth is already excited about this new addition to the neighborhood.  Pralines, candy, beignets and coffee sounds good to us.

Anyone have any info?

(Hat tip:  HH & LG!)

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

212 Handcrafted, Pink Bunny Slippers Installed on Agora Statues in Honor of Mother's Day

Love them or hate them, the Agora statues at the southwest corner of Grant Park (Roosevelt and State) are pretty impactful.  And that's why it's surprising to see the picture above.  A reader wrote us with more of the background on a pretty cool "MomBomb" act that happened this past weekend in honor of Mother's Day:
On Saturday, May 9, 2015 @ 6:00 am, Team Agora installed 212 handcrafted, pink bunny slippers on the feet of the Agora statues in Grant Park (at Roosevelt and Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL.)  
This “Leave No Trace” MomBomb - YarnBomb event was created by a team of 35 knitters, from 15 states, using more than 250 pounds of yarn, and working more than 2,000 hours over the course of the past 5 months. The slippers will offer Agora a much needed rest.  
“This action is intended as a gesture of respect and appreciation for this marvelous sculpture by Magdalena Abakanowicz, and what it represents. We hope the slippers will offer Agora well-deserved rest." Team Agora  
May 9, 2015 - May 17, 2015  
Goodnight Agora,  
We’ve come to offer you rest. A deep, beautiful rest, so that you can rise again and continue your work. You came here to teach us. To make us remember what it is to feel small, without power, overwhelmed by the weight of oppression. You teach us to meet oppression by looking up and standing tall against it. You insist we amplify the voices of those not seen or heard. You remind us to remember our humanity and to love each other. We are humbled and strengthened by your presence.

Happy Mother’s Day, Agora. We know who you are and we thank you.  Happy Mother’s Day to ALL who mother. 
Team Agora

Nicely done ladies.  Nicely done!

(Hat tip:  MLW!)

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

CMK Confirms Joint Venture to Develop $1.5 Billion Project on the Chicago River

A view of one of the empty lots that CMK bought next to the Chicago River - looking north from Roosevelt
Some big development (and big money) news has been buzzing around the interwebs recently.

First off, on Thursday last week Chicago Real Estate Dailey had a blurb about a business agreement to development a large swath of prime South Loop land:
Australian construction giant Lend Lease Group confirmed that it has entered into a joint venture with Chicago-based developer CMK to develop 13 acres of land in the South Loop along the Chicago River. The $1.5 billion development will include apartments, condominiums, retail and commercial space and community facilities, Lend Lease said in a statement. The site, which runs on the east side of the river from Harrison Street south to Roosevelt Road, will be developed over 10 years, the statement said. The venture aims to file plans with the city “over the coming months” and break ground in early 2016, according to the statement.
We've spent some serious (digital) ink on this website talking about CMK's recent land grab along the Chicago river.  While they've shown that they can develop properties, a project of this magnitude requires some help which is why bringing on Lend Lease makes a lot of sense.

The same story was featured on the Chicago Architecture Blog yesterday and provided more information on the city's "River South" TIF district.  In the article, they seem to suggest that the CMK/Lend Lease Group are also developing the huge piece of land south of Roosevelt between the the river and Clark (aka the Rezko Land).
Wells/Wentworth Connector Plan
While this may be the case, this is the first we've heard of this and would assume it would have received more "mainstream" news.

Before the lot south of Roosevelt is developed, the city needs to provide some infrastructure to this urban wasteland (which has been coined the Wells/Wentworth Connector project by the city).

Anyway, the point of this post is that more news has emerged on CMK's intentions for their land along the Chicago River.  Seems ambitious, but looking forward to seeing what they have in the works.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Jersey Mike's - Closed Permanently or Remodeling?

It would appear that the Sloop has spoken and they don't like sandwiches from New Jersey.  A reader writes:
I would assume that your logo wouldn't come off your building if you're just remodeling.

We tend to agree with this reader.  Seems strange that they would remove the sign if they were really renovating.

If we had to guess, they're going to try out a new franchise (which is probably a good thing).

Unless someone knows something, we are going to chalk this up to being closed and will update the business counter accordingly.  

Hope something new is opening and here is to hoping it's something good!

(Hat tip: JG, BH, SS, JY, LK!)