Monday, June 27, 2016

It's Official - Lucas Museum to Be Built in a State Far, Far Away

In the midst of the global news of the Brexit last Friday, another, more local, piece of surprising news came out.  George Lucas officially announced that his propose Lucas Museum of Narrative Art would be dropping their plans to build on Chicago's lakefront in favor of building it in California (via Chicago Tribune):
The Lucas Museum saga in Chicago has ended.  
"Star Wars" creator George Lucas announced Friday he is abandoning plans to build the project in Chicago, ending months of debate and controversy. Lucas, who wanted to build a museum showcasing his art collection along the city's lakefront, said in a statement he would shift his focus to trying to build the museum in California.  
The Lucas Museum proposal has been on hold since November 2014, when the group Friends of the Parks filed a federal lawsuit blocking construction.  
"No one benefits from continuing their seemingly unending litigation to protect a parking lot," filmmaker George Lucas said. "The actions initiated by Friends of Parks and their recent attempts to extract concessions from the city have effectively overridden approvals received from numerous democratically elected bodies of government."

While it seemed like this move back to California was a real possibility, it also seemed like there were some backroom negotiations going on to make this happen.

This development sorta feels like how we felt after Chicago didn't get the 2016 Olympics.  Not saying they're similar situations, just saying right now it feels like Chicago is losing out similar to how it felt way back in 2008.  In hindsight, Chicago not getting the bid seems like a blessing - maybe we'll feel the same way when this museum finally gets built in California.

Anyway, as you can imagine there are some pretty interesting reads on the fallout.  Here are some of the articles that caught our eye:

Friday, June 24, 2016

Mayor Expresses Interest in Idea to Convert Metra Electric District Line to Rapid-Transit Line

From the Trib:
A proposal to convert the Metra Electric District Line into a rapid-transit line with more frequent stops to serve the South Side and suburbs has drawn the interest of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who has asked the head of the Regional Transportation Authority to facilitate discussion on the issue, RTA officials said.
So why does this impact us in the Sloop?  Well for some of the Sloop residents, more stops on this line could better and more frequent access to downtown (especially for residents who live closer in and around the east side of the Prairie Ave District and close to McCormick Place.

While the definitely has pros and cons for the Sloop, it's mainly being floated to help bolster access from the south side of Chicago and south suburbs to the downtown core.

Despite this news and expressed interest from the mayor, it sounds like there are some major hurdles to overcome:
The Metra Electric rapid-transit idea is not new — community activists had proposed it as the Gray Line in 1996 and the Gold Line in 2009.  
The proposal has many obstacles, primarily the shortage of funding for transit expansion and the difficulty of using Ventra with Metra's distance-based fares.  
The coalition brought the proposal to Metra last month. Metra had previously begun a study with the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District examining capacity along the Metra Electric District Line, including whether it has the electrical power to support more trains and what changes would be needed in the track and power system. That study, which should answer some of the questions about the coalition's proposal, is expected to be done in early 2017, Metra spokesman Michael Gillis said.
Will this happen?  Seems unlikely.  But it's good to see that "creative" solutions are being considered to help with public transit.

While who knows what's going to happen with the Lucas Museum, we do know that the mayor and politicians have their eye on improving access to Museum Campus/McCormick Place/Motor Row.  Is this a potential solution, maybe?  Definitely worth the consideration.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Looks like Work For Pizano's is Underway at Vesta Lofts (2106 S. Indiana)

A reader writes and sends us this picture:
Work going on inside Vesta Lofts where the new Pizanos will be.

For those of you who don't believe this, here is a link to the building permit from cityscape:
Renovation/alteration permit at 2106 S Indiana Ave in Chicago Interior build-out of partial 1st floor for new restaurant/ pizanos pizza and pasta per plans **certified plans corrections: conditional permit subject to field inspections **
Looks like they're looking to cash in on all the planned motor row development!

(Hat tip: SR!)

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Lucas Museum "Negotiation" Appears to Be Playing Out Via Chicago Media Organizations

The long-running controversy over the fate of the planned Lucas Museum took another bitter twist Tuesday when the head of the group opposing the project said it had been given a deadline to accept the original site for the $743 million museum — a claim city officials immediately denied. 
"We have been told that Mr. Lucas, the Lucas Museum, will leave Chicago at any moment," Friends of the Parks Executive Director Juanita Irizarry said. "The official word we have been given was that Tuesday was our deadline." 
But city officials said the timeline was not as specific. 
"No deadline was delivered, but as we've been saying, time is not on our side," said Adam Collins, a spokesman for Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Apparently this "negotiation" is going to play out via Chicago news organizations.  It seems like this is all in an attempt to sway public opinion.

All we can do is sigh...  

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Not So Fast! Legal Hurdle Could Slow Down 62-Acre Related Midwest Project

One of the many big real estate stories currently being discussed in the Sloop is the 62-acre "urban jungle" that Related Midwest wants to develop south of Roosevelt (between clark and the river).

This land has been in limbo for some time, but ever since Related got involved last year, it seemed like it would be moving in the right direction.  While it still may happen, there is a new complicating factor (via ChicagoTribune):
Photo from
An Iraqi-born British billionaire who bought the largest undeveloped plot of downtown Chicago land from politically connected convicted felon Tony Rezko a decade ago was in on a scam "amounting to theft" when he cut a North Shore businessman out of nearly $13 million he was owed from the deal, the 7th Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled.  
The ruling Monday against Nadhmi Auchi and his company, General Mediterranean Holding, throws a potential road bump in front of the proposed development of the 62-acre parcel of land connecting the South Loop and Chinatown, hailed last month as a transformative project that would alter Chicago's skyline.  
Auchi, 79, was convicted in 2003 in France in a corruption scandal, and his involvement in the huge plot southwest of Roosevelt Road and Clark Street has long been a subject of intrigue. Court testimony in 2008 indicated then-Sen. Barack Obama in 2004 attended a party Rezko threw for Auchi in an attempt to interest Auchi in the property.  
Auchi eventually bought the land from Rezko for $31.8 million, and last month partnered with Related Midwest to develop the site in a deal Mayor Rahm Emanuel is backing.
It's always been interesting that Obama is tied to this story.  Anyway, should be interesting to see how it plays out.  While there are tens of millions of dollars involved in this case, it seems like the scope of what Related has proposed is much more than that.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Sounds Like Motor Row Brewing Is Hosting a "Blues and Brews" Event Every Monday

A reader writes:
Live Blues Monday's starting at 6pm at Motor Row Brewing

According to their website this is happening!

(Hat tip:  TB!)

Friday, June 17, 2016

Popular Sandwhich Spot, Pork & Mindy's, Opening Pop-up Spot at Museum Campus

The Chicago Horizon Pavillion at the base of the Shedd
Looks like we're getting a trendy Wicker Park sandwich shop in the Sloop (kinda) - via ChicagoTribune:
The Chicago Park District has partnered with Pork & Mindy’s, the Wicker Park sandwich shop helmed by Food Network star Jeff Mauro, to open what amounts to a pop-up lakefront food court steps from the Shedd Aquarium, and walkable from The Field Museum, Adler Planetarium, Soldier Field and Northerly Island. Dubbed The Link, the pop-up is housed in the Chicago Horizon, an open-air structure built last fall.   
Pork & Mindy’s is the first restaurant to make use of the award-winning space, but other vendors are encouraged to apply. The 4,000 square-foot-space can host up to five vendors and has seating for 40 people. You can also ask for a picnic blanket, and take your lunch or dinner to the surrounding lawn.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Backstory on the Confusion With Friends of the Parks Lawsuit Against Lucas Museum

Late last week, we posted about some mixed messages coming from the civic group called Friends of the Parks who was in strong opposition of the Lucas Museum.

Yesterday, Greg Hinz, a columnist who broke the story, spilled the beans on his story and stance on the situation:
If you're going to hold yourself out as the great defender of the public interest, it sure helps to be, well, public. 
I wish the good folks at Friends of the Parks would get that message.  Whatever its intent, the Chicago civic group is acting like a secret special interest that can't be bothered to answer questions and level with those it's supposedly representing in its continued battle with Mayor Rahm Emanuel over the proposed Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. 
My reference is to the media exchange late last week in which both I and Michael Sneed at the Chicago Sun-Times reported that Friends' badly divided board had voted to sue for peace, offering to drop the federal lawsuit that has blocked construction of the Lucas Museum in exchange for creating hundreds of new acres of park space elsewhere. 
Sneed can speak for herself, but my story had multiple sources and I stand by it. But ever since, all the group has done is issue a clear-as-mud statement denying that it's pulling its lawsuit, at least for now, and that the principle of preserving the lakefront for public use must not be "ignored." 
That's far less than definitive. So I've directed more than a dozen emails, calls and messages through intermediaries to Friends Executive Director Juanita Irizarry and board Chairwoman Lauren Moltz saying I'd like to talk with them and clarify exactly what happened at that board meeting and where the group stands now. I contacted them not only because they are in charge of the organization but because, according to my sources, they were on the losing side of a 12-4 board vote.

It's a good read and provides an interesting backstory to the swirl of media coverage on the topic last week.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

A Look at Average Real Estate Prices Based on Proximity to 'L' Stops

Maybe not the most scientific research in the world, but an interesting visual representation on real estate prices per square foot (via Estately):
Home prices vary across the Chicago real estate market, but Estately wanted to show how those prices vary depending on which transit stop a home is near. To do this, Estately analyzed the last six months of home sales for houses, townhouses, and condos within a half-mile radius of each transit stop on the CTA 'L' System's Red, Blue, Brown, Green, Orange, Purple, Pink and Yellow Lines. We then broke them down by price per square foot.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Trib: "The Kitchen is Absolutely Killing it Right Now" at Acadia

White-asparagus cremeaux anchors a miniature garden of baby vegetables
that is surrounded by a hot, charred-onion broth. (Via Chicago Tribune)
This is a relatively old review (back in April of 2016), but a good and descriptive read of the Sloop's preeminent fine dinning experience (via ChicagoTribune):
True enough, Acadia, just south of 16th Street on Wabash Avenue, doesn't present much to the outside world. From the street, it's a drab little building on a very quiet stretch (at 10 p.m. that night, the sidewalk was populated by me, the car valet and a guy walking his dog). But once you walk through the front door, it's like Dorothy stepping out of her farmhouse.  
The dining room is drop-dead gorgeous, a warmly minimalist, softly lit and serenely quiet space with alabaster walls, neutral carpeting and beaded-metal curtains. Seating, replaced a year ago, is plush and comfortable.  And the kitchen is absolutely killing it right now, producing a parade of eye-candy dishes that display intelligence, humor and, occasionally, clever riffs on the food of chef/owner Ryan McCaskey's beloved New England region.  
Had McCaskey opened Acadia on Randolph Street four years ago, he'd probably be driving a Lexus by now.  
"I think about it every week," McCaskey said, in a mixture of ruefulness and defiance. "Whenever I talk to Nick Kokonas (Alinea, Aviary, Next, Roister), he tells me, 'You know, you'd have doubled your revenue in the West Loop.' But the South Loop will have its day; I know it's going to happen."

The article goes on to give a vivid description of what you can expect when dinning at Acadia.  Beyond this, the Tribune has rated the restaurant the #7th best in Chicago (you can find an interactive maps here).

Lucky to have this one in the neighborhood.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Coming Soon Sign Shows Up for Gordo's Handmade Ice Cream Bars on Printer's Row

After Saturday's heat, it comes as a refreshing sign that the rumored ice cream shop on Printer's Row is apparently coming soon:

There is not much on the interwebs except some trademark info for the shop.  While that might not be super informative, it does provide some insight into the name (for those of you who are like us and aren't fluent in spanish):
The English translation of Gordo's in the mark is Fatso's.
So if we had to guess, this is either a coy poke at some of their potential customers or a hint that this is going to be the "real stuff" - not some yogurt spot.

Also interesting is the reference to "ice cream bars".  We're stretching here a little bit, but it seems to imply that this isn't just going to be a traditional ice cream shop.  It presumably will have "ice cream bars" and other more unusual treats.

Looking forward to this one!

(Hat tip: TR!)