Monday, May 23, 2022

Gong Cha Coming to University Center on State Street (500 block of S. State)

Looks like a new tea place called Gong Cha is opening at University Center where Spanglish use to be:

We've never heard of this place, but apparently this is a huge franchise (check their website for more info):
Founded in 2006 in Kaohsiung, Taiwan; Gong Cha, which translates to “tribute tea for the emperor” opened its doors to the bubble tea market. Gong cha’s success in Taiwan launched our stores all over the globe with customers loving our premium quality tea, products & services: 
  • Fresh Tea brewed throughout the day 
  • Pearls (bubbles) freshly prepared to perfection continuously through the day 
  • Tea sourced from the finest tea estates in Taiwan 
  • Strict quality controls for all ingredients 
Gong cha is known across the world for its signature Milk Foam. Its creamy, sweet and savory flavor balance and whipped texture make it the perfect complement to our freshly brewed teas. Our delicious milk foam is hand-crafted for each customer and made from the freshest milk and highest quality, signature ingredients.
Interesting spot for their first location in the midwest - but glad to have them in the Sloop.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Violin Worth Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars Stollen from Townhouse on Plymouth Ct

In case you missed this one, very scary story (via WGN):



Violin worth hundreds of thousands of dollars - wow!  It all seems crazy that they knew (or was lucky enough) to steal something so valuable.  

Regardless, a scary story.  Be safe.


Monday, May 9, 2022

Mayor Lightfoot Picks River West for City's Casino; Process Moves on Starting Today (5/9)

 The reporting was accurate - the mayor picked the River West location as her choice for the city's downtown casino.  Most of us in the Sloop breathed a sigh of relief, but it's not a done deal yet.

If you're interested in following this story, NBC 5 has some info on the next steps - including info on a city council special committee meeting to discuss:

May 9: City Council and Special Committee 
According to a press release from Mayor Lightfoot's office, a subject matter hearing for an "Alderman special committee" to ask questions about the selected casino finalist will take place Monday at 11 a.m. 

The committee will consist of all the Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen of City Council Committees, as well as President Pro Tempore Alderman Brendan Reilly, 42nd Ward.  It will be chaired by Alderman Tom Tunney, 44th Ward, and vice-chaired by Alderman Jason Ervin, 28th Ward, the press release said. 
All of the City Council will be involved in the process for the final recommendation. 

May 12: Public Town Hall 
 The public can provide input on May 12, on the Bally's project at a community town hall at the UIC Isadore and Sadie Dorin Forum at 725 W Roosevelt Rd. from 7 p.m. - 9 p.m. According to the Eventbrite page, "representatives from the city and Bally’s Corporation will be there to share additional information, respond to questions, and hear from community members."

While this is increasingly becoming less of a South Loop story, we will continue to monitor. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Sources: River West Proposal to Get City Casino

Well it looks like the South Loop Casino proposals for The 78 and One Central are sitting on a "bust" hand and waiting for the final card to be played (via Sun-Times):

Mayor Lori Lightfoot is preparing to turn over her cards in the Chicago casino game, with all signs pointing to a winning hand for Bally’s Corporation and their River West bid, sources told the Chicago Sun-Times on Tuesday. 
The city signaled in a March report that Bally’s proposal for the Chicago Tribune printing plant site at Chicago Avenue and Halsted Street was the front-runner over two other finalists for the casino. An official decision could come Thursday. 
The publicly traded Rhode Island corporation was the only one to offer an upfront payment of $25 million for the license — and was projected as the top revenue generator over a Hard Rock casino proposed across DuSable Lake Shore Drive from Soldier Field, and the so-called “Rivers 78” plan backed by billionaire Neil Bluhm for the South Loop. Those are key considerations for city officials desperate to start pumping casino tax revenue into depleted police and firefighter pension funds.

If this reporting is accurate from the Sun-Times, the South Loop got lucky.  Although a casino would have given these developments a big shot in the arm and likely accelerated their plans, it would have brought a completely new element to the neighborhood which likely would have altered it dramatically forever.

It's not over yet, but seems like a positive development for the neighborhood.


Monday, May 2, 2022

Dollop Cafe, Bar & Kitchen Opens at NEMA (1210 S. Indiana Ave)

Looks like the new Dollop Coffee at NEMA is now open and providing some unique options from their other locations (via Eater Chicago):

South Loop: There are now 19 Dollop cafes around town and in the suburbs, but the location that opened Thursday, April 28, is special, says a rep. Unlike the majority of the other locations, Dollop Cafe, Bar & Kitchen will have full table service and offer all-day breakfast and lunch — including chicken and waffles and smash burgers — in addition to the usual coffee and pastries, with evening hours and cocktails coming next month. Dollop Cafe, Bar & Kitchen, 1210 S. Indiana Avenue, Open 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.


Thursday, April 28, 2022

Ambulance Stollen in Chinatown - Doesn't End Well for Thief

Interesting vehicle to take in Chinatown/South Loop.  Obviously this didn't end well (via Sun-Times):

A man has been charged with stealing a Chicago Fire Department ambulance Monday in Chinatown and leading police on an 80-mile chase downstate.

Benjamin K. Herrington, 46, entered the ambulance as it sat empty, parked on the street outside a fire station in the 200 block of West Cermak Road around 4:40 p.m., police said.

The Twitter video was interesting


Wednesday, April 27, 2022

CPS CEO Decides Not to Remove Jones College Prep Principal

From Block Club:

Jones College Prep’s controversial principal will remain at the high school after the head of Chicago Public Schools opted not to remove him — despite the local school council’s vote to oust him.

CPS CEO Pedro Martinez issued a statement saying he would not go forward with dismissal proceedings against Joseph Powers, citing “insufficient evidence.”

Several members of Jones’ local school council had been working for months to oust Powers, accusing the principal of ignoring problematic teachers and doing little to disrupt a culture of racial and gender-based discrimination at the school. CPS launched an Title IX investigation into Jones earlier this year after allegations of discriminatory practices involving the school’s athletic teams.

Tensions reached a fever pitch when Powers reversed a previous decision to allow a budding cross country star to train with the boys’ team due to inadequate facilities on the girls’ teams.

The school’s LSC voted 8-2 last month to ask Martinez to approve written charges against Powers and start the process to fire him after 14 years at Jones. The post-midnight vote came after a tense and combative seven-hour virtual meeting.

There has been a lot of discussion in the neighborhood about the topic and imagine local parents aren't happy with this latest development.  We will see what happens next.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Aldermen in "Special Committee on the Chicago Casino" to Meet Today to Discuss Next Steps

We've been watching the potential Chicago casino very closely, but the process has been unclear (maybe because it wasn't clearly defined?).  With staunch opposition from residents in each community (South Loop and River North) along with our Aldermen we were curious how this would unfold.  Well WBEZ has an information quick read with likely timing:

Facing a chorus of opposition from Chicagoans near the remaining three possible casino locations, a committee of aldermen will begin meeting Monday to discuss where to allow the city’s first flashy gaming and entertainment district to be built. 

The locations still in the running are: a site from Bally’s Corporation at the Tribune Publishing Center in River West, a site from Hard Rock just west of Soldier Field at a proposed development known as One Central and a site from Rush Street Gaming west of the South Loop in a megadevelopment known as The 78. 

Ald. Tom Tunney, 44th Ward, chairs the new Special Committee on the Chicago Casino created by the mayor and approved by City Council last month. 

“We’ll probably be narrowing it down,” Tunney said. “Sometime between April and May, I think we’re going to reconvene with the mayor and really try to fine tune and announce a finalist.” 

No vote will be taken Monday, Tunney said, but rather aldermen will have a chance to talk to city officials and department leaders who have been involved in the casino planning process. The three bidders will not be at the meeting, but Tunney said there may be revisions submitted to the committee that take into account community feedback.

The article goes on to give good info and it sounds like they're hoping to make a decision this summer (June or July).

As it relates to the special council, we found it interesting that the alderman who represents the site of The 78 - And. Bryon Sigcho-Lopez isn't on it:
The City Council members who represent the three sites and the surrounding communities have all come out against the specific proposals in their backyards. 

Ald. Walter Burnett, Jr., 28th Ward, told Block Club Chicago he hoped the Bally’s proposal in his ward would not be chosen. He declined an interview request from WBEZ. 

Ald. Pat Dowell, 3rd Ward, issued a lengthy statement opposing the Hard Rock proposal at One Central in her ward. She said it would be “dropped into an existing, well-established family community” and added that even though the developer insists the casino and the megadevelopment are separate projects, it’s difficult to see them as anything but “interrelated projects.” 

Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez, 25th Ward, is against the Rivers casino at The 78 in his ward. “It is clear that the residents of the 25th Ward — 80% of the residents — do not support this proposal,” Sigcho-Lopez said. He is the only alderman who has a finalist in his ward but is not on the special committee. 

Tunney said he wants all Council members to participate in the meetings and said Sigcho-Lopez will not get left out despite not being on the committee.

We're no experts on the inner workings of Chicago City Council or Aldermanic politics, but we'll go the cynical route and say it's harder to influence from the outside.  

If you think all bids have an equal chance of winning at this stage, then we have a 67% chance of a casino landing in our neighborhood.  If you adjust based on simple observations - such as the special council thought above - it seems more likely than not that this big development is coming to the Sloop.  

Should be an eventful spring and summer on this front for the Sloop.

Monday, April 11, 2022

Casino Bids Face Stiff Opposition from Neighbors

Last week was when the three remaining Chicago Casino bids had a chance to further lay out their vision and get public support.  Judging by all the reviews from the meetings, nobody wants a Casino in their neighborhood.

For us in the Sloop, it seems as if this poses a big problem as two of the sites sit squarely in high profile spots in the neighborhood.

Interestingly, one Alderman came out and said he couldn't support the plan in his ward (via Block Club):

Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez  (25th) wrote in a letter to a powerful colleague this week that he “cannot support” a proposal for a casino to be built as part of “The 78” mega-development brewing in his Near South Side ward, imperiling the proposal’s chances as it competes with two other plans.

Sigcho-Lopez’s support hinges on the backing of the 78 Community Advisory Council, a group made up of neighbors and community leaders who should collectively be considered a “subject matter expert” in the vetting process for any new development along the 62-acre swath being developed by Related Midwest, the alderman wrote in a letter to Ald. Tom Tunney (44) on Monday. Mayor Lori Lightfoot picked Tunney last week to chair a new Committee on the Chicago Casino, which will head up the city’s consideration of the three remaining casino projects. 

In his letter, Sigcho-Lopez pointed back to a resident survey conducted by the 78 Community Advisory Council that found overwhelming opposition to the casino plan last month. Of the 378 neighbors polled, 78 percent said they were either “highly unsupportive” or “somewhat unsupportive” of Related’s and Rivers’ casino proposal. 

So you're telling me that 78% of South Loop neighbors don't support a casino at the 78 development?  Well that's a funny coincidence.

If you look at the other proposed South Loop casino site - One Central - just west of Soldier Field, it doesn't sound like it went much better (via Block Club):

If the team behind the Hard Rock casino proposal hoped to win over the public, they may have their work cut out for them.

In a contentious Tuesday night meeting at Harold Washington Library in the Loop, residents blasted city officials and company leaders for the lack of details around the project, and questioned how it would affect crime in the area and spur community investment. Some roundly rejected the idea, saying they worried about the scale of the project on the southern end of One Central, a massive mixed-use project covering 32 acres between Museum Campus and McCormick Place. 

Alderman Dowell - who represents that ward - hasn't officially stated where she stands on this project, so in some respect it would seem like One Central currently sits in a better space than The 78 proposal.  That said, she could very well come out and say she's against it.

It also seems like the proposal for the Bally's location on the Chicago River just north of the city also is facing stiff neighborhood opposition.  So should be interesting to see how this all plays out.

Monday, April 4, 2022

Apolonia Earns Bib Gourmand from The Michelin Guide

Big shout-out to Apolonia for their recent Bib Gourmand award (via Eater Chicago):

The Michelin Guide announced seven new additions to its Chicago Bib Gourmand list, its annual selection of “good value” restaurants where it’s possible to have a two-course meal plus wine or dessert for about $40 per person. Next week, the guide will announce its starred restaurants on Tuesday, April 5, along with the other 48 spots on the Bib Gourmand list.

Last year’s Chicago Bib Gourmand list consisted of 58 restaurants with 10 new additions. Of those 58, only Pizzeria Bebu, the Lincoln Park thin-crust specialists, is closed.

The new Bib Gourmands are Apolonia, Stephen Gillanders’s (S.K.Y.) contemporary South Loop restaurant; Bloom Plant Based Kitchen, the Wicker Park vegan spot from Rodolfo Cuadros (Amaru); Dear Margaret, the Lakeview restaurant that proves French-Canadian cuisine goes beyond Labatt’s Blue and poutine; Lardon, Logan Square’s popular all-day salumeria; Sochi Saigonese Kitchen, a modern regional Vietnamese spot in Lakeview; Superkhana International, which mixes and mashes up Indian flavors in Logan Square; and Tortello, the Wicker Park pasta shop and cafe.

While they probably wanted a star from the venerable tire company, inclusion in the Bib list is still noteworthy (especially given their proximity to McCormick Place we imagine this will really help their business).

For those not aware, Apolonia sits prominently at the corner of Michigan and Cermak and opened about a year ago and has garnered a lot of positive press.



Monday, March 28, 2022

Donation Requested for PAWS Chicago from South Loop Montessori Student

From a young Sloopin reader and contributor at South Loop Montessori:  

Elementary Pet Supply Drive 
The elementary class at South Loop Montessori is holding a pet supply drive in the month of April. A donation box will be set up in front of the classroom from April 4th to April 29th. 

All items will be donated to PAWS Chicago, a no-kill animal shelter. 

More information about this organization can be found here: https://www.pawschicago.org/ 

PAWs accepts the following supplies: 
● New and unopened: dog and cat food and treats, brushes 
● New or gently used: dog and cat toys, leashes, collars, metal crates, stainless steel food bowls, litter boxes, clean sheets and blankets, clean towels, gallon ziplock bags, paper towels, newspapers, cat litter, dog poop bags, garbage bags

You can email us at sloopin@gmail.com and we can cooridnate with the young student who is trying to get donations.  

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

City Announces 3 Finalists for Casino Locations ; 2 of them in the Sloop

Looks like two Sloop locations made the cut (via Chicago Tribune):

And then there were three.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has narrowed down the city’s five proposals for its first casino to three finalists: Bally’s at the Chicago Tribune Publishing Center, Rivers at The 78 and Hard Rock at the proposed One Central megadevelopment, the city announced Tuesday.

The three remaining bids advanced by the city may represent the path of least resistance for a Chicago casino. But none has landed without some objections or concerns, which the city may have to confront before it whittles the group down to a single favored plan, which officials said will be by early summer. It would still need to win state approval.

Not going to lie, a bit unfortunate to see that the McCormick Lake Side center cut but seems like that ran into some stiff resistence from the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority - the powerful group that runs the giant convention complex.

The proposal for a casino at The 78 seems like the most straightforward of the remaining bids in our opinion.  Although the River North option at Ashland and Halstead (formerly known as the Chicago Tribune Printing Center) also wouldn't be hard to envision.

The one that seems to have the biggest question mark (but maybe the most strategic opportunity for Chicago and Mayor Lightfoot) is the Hard Rock option on the train tracks west of Soldier Field:

Hard Rock is proposing a $1.74 billion casino at One Central, a massive mixed-use project developers hope to build over train tracks west of Soldier Field. The proposal includes a 3,500-seat live entertainment venue, a 500-room hotel and other amenities.

While Landmark Development’s proposed $20 billion One Central megadevelopment may still need $6.5 billion in state funding to get off the ground, the city said Tuesday that the Hard Rock Chicago can proceed independently from the broader development.

“The Hard Rock proposal proposes a phase one where the remainder of One Central does not need to move forward,” said Jennie Bennett, the city’s chief financial officer. “It’s not contingent on state funding.”

The One Central development is massively controversial, complex and seems unlikely.  However, judging by that last quote it seems like this could move forward without full approval of One Centra.

In theory this proposal sits at an interesting spot and one that could help the city re-envision what the Museum Campus and Soldier Field is for the next couple decades. 

It's been well documented that the Chicago Bears are potentially (likely?) going to move to the burbs.  As a result, it's caused city hall to rethink how it can utilize this iconic, but dated building and the area more broadly.  

Could the Hard Rock Casino serve as a shot in the arm for whatever they want to do?  Will be interesting to see what transpires here.  


Monday, March 21, 2022

Student Athlete Controversy at Jone College Prep Sparks Title IX Investigation

Controversy erupts at Jone College Prep over sports, fundraising and power at the school (via Blockclub):

Chicago Public Schools is investigating Jones College Prep for potential violations of federal sex discrimination laws connected to its sports teams, part of a broader conflict at the prestigious school where students have complained of mistreatment and leaders are pushing to fire the longtime principal.

CPS officials confirmed this week the district’s Office of Student Protections and Title IX is investigating the athletic department at Jones, 700 S. State St. The department is probing alleged violations of Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination in educational programs. A spokesman did not offer specifics, citing an ongoing process.

District leaders would not say when they launched a Title IX investigation, but they said the inquiry was ongoing before local school council members contacted the district in February.

Members of Jones’ local school council reported Principal Joseph Powers to the district in February, alleging, among other things, that he allowed conditions to persist where unequal resources were dedicated to boys and girls sports. Council members also contacted CPS officials in December, highlighting what they said was poor oversight for fundraising that made it difficult to ensure money was being distributed fairly for clubs and athletic teams.

The story is pretty in-depth and surely is important for all those involved, but seems to have morphed into something bigger than the original issue.  The mother of the athlete simply said ‘My Daughter Just Wanted To Run’ - and it does seem like she is being used as a pawn here.

Monday, March 14, 2022

Crane Assembly Underway at 1400 S. Wabash 30 Floor Highrise

Via YIMBY Chicago:

Crane assembly can be seen for the 30-story high rise planned at 1400 S Wabash Avenue in South Loop, replacing a long-empty vacant lot. As of now, permits have been issued for the foundation, tower crane, and the superstructure up to the fourth floor.



While it's good to see and learn about progress at 1400 S. Wabash - there were some other bonkers maps within this post.  While One Central development and The 78 are questionable, could you imagine if these "proposed" buildings actually end up getting built.  Look at how much density it would bring to the Sloop:


Does anyone think all of these buildings will be built by 2030?  2040?  It's mind boggling to think about what would have to happen in Chicago to support that much development.  Just seems impractical looking at the landscape today.