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?

Friday, January 16, 2015

Uber-Urban Coyotes Raise Litter at Secret Concrete Den in Soldier Field Parking Lot

Screenshot of Coyote Crittercam from National Geographic (click her for the video)
Urban coyotes are a relatively new phenomenon, but to us a fascinating one.  With that said, we recently read an interesting article in National Geographic about this and lo and behold a Sloop reference.  All we're going to say is watch your dogs when you walk around Soldier Field:
One GPS-collared coyote named 748 and his mate even raised a litter of five healthy pups inside a secret concrete den in the parking lot of Soldier Field Stadium, home of the Chicago Bears.
The article also provide an overview about the difference between wild coyotes and uber-urban coyotes:
The animals have altered their natural behavior to accommodate living in close quarters with people. Unlike wild coyotes, for example, Chicago's uber-urban coyotes are nocturnal, coming out when most people have gone home; have learned to travel and cross busy roads regularly; and maintain huge yet fragmented territories, according to new data from coyotes outfitted with a GPS collar or a Crittercam, a National Geographic camera that attaches harmlessly to animals.
The article also has some fun videos from the crittercam which we suggest a clicking through to watch (if you like that type of thing).

If we will recall we've posted about coyotes in the neighborhood before.  The Chicago Journal (remember that local publication?!?!?) had a story about them and specifically hunting for them at the gigantic Rezko lot south of Roosevelt between the river and Clark.

Or maybe that other time when WGN had a video of a coyote running down State street in the Sloop.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Burger Bar Looking to Open in the Next 2-3 Weeks

"Opening announcement week" continues here a Sloopin (Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday).

The PDNA (Prairie District Neighbors Association) Facebook page has the scoop on an opening date for Burger Bar:
Burger Bar Chicago new South Loop Location Opening Soon! We have it on good authority that the opening of Burger Bar Chicago's 2nd location could be ready to open in the next 2-3 weeks. With their flagship location on North Clybourn in Lincoln Park, the new location will be on the corner of Michigan Avenue & Roosevelt Road, in the ground floor of The Colombian Condominium building ground floor retail space. Gourmet Burgers, salads, mac & cheese, 100+ craft beers, milk-shakes etc.
Last we heard they were shooting for an end of year opening, but that clearly didn't happen.  Regardless, this will be a good one once the doors are open.

Also, we recently walked by and they have a menu on their window if anyone is interested:

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Lakeside Bank Aims for February, 23rd Opening Date

Rendering of new Lakeside Bank at northwest corner of Michigan and 14th (via DNAinfo)
Well it appears that this "announce you're opening date" week here at Sloopin.

Monday was Baderbrau Brewery.  Tuesday was Motor Row Brewing.  Today isn't a brewery, but it does start with a "B" in it's name.

We received an email from a reader stating that they have had some correspondence with a representative from Lakeside Bank and that they were shooting to open their new location at 14th and Michigan on Monday, February 23rd.

If you recall, Lakeside Bank ended up closing their location at Cermak and Prairie Avenue to make way for the McPier/DePaul arena/hotel.  As a result, they ended up buying the vacant lot at the northwest corner of 14th and Michigan and have been in busy buildout mode since the fall.

(Hat tip:  VC!)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Motor Row Brewing To Officially Open at 2337 S. Michigan on Thursday, 1/15

Mayor Emmanuel and Alderman Dowel
Check Out Motor Row Brewing
Yesterday we read about a planned summer opening for Baderbrau Brewery.  Today word comes down that Motor Row Brewing is opening this Thursday, 1/15 (according to their website):
Stop me, oh oh stop me if you you’ve heard this one before… But we are OFFICIALLY opening on Thursday, January 15th. Really. Due to limited space and the lovely weather, PLEASE RSVP BELOW!
It's been a long grind to this opening for Motor Row Brewing (formerly named Broad Shoulders Brewing).  But as they say, good things to those who wait...and hopefully this applies to this brewery.

We've been lucky enough to try some of their early beers and we think people are going to be happy.

Anyway,  congrats to them and looks like we have our first business opening in 2015 (chalk one up for the 2015 business counter!).

(Hat tip:  TG!)