Saturday, November 22, 2014

Meet Bre, a 4-Year-Old Pit Bull Mix

Sloopin is proud to work with The Anti-Cruelty Society and the PetSmart Charities Everyday Adoption Center (EAC) in the South Loop (1101 S. Canal) to help bring awareness to their adoption program.  Every month we will be posting about a local animal who could use a home.

This week please meet Bre:
Say hello to Bre, a 4-year-old pit bull mix who is available for adoption through The Anti-Cruelty Society. Bre is a social, friendly girl, whose tail is always wagging! She can be a little nervous coming through thresholds and approaching stairs, but will come forward with gentle encouragement. Bre should adjust well to most households and will make a great companion for a variety of families. Come meet this sweet, soft girl today at the PetSmart Charities Everyday Adoption Center located in the South Loop PetSmart.
The Anti-Cruelty Society, Chicago’s oldest and largest animal welfare organization, opened up the South Loop satellite location in 2013! So far they have adopted close to an impressive 1,000 cat, dogs, puppies and kittens.

The EAC has room for 42 dogs, cats, puppies and kittens. The 2,075 square foot facility includes kennels for dogs of all sizes, a cat adoption center, play areas for dogs waiting to find a home and an area for adopters and pets to hold meet-and-greets. More info on the EAC and the animals available can be found here.

Design Fail at Fred Anderson Dog Park?

Designer fail - a reader writes:
The new park currently being built just south of 16th and Wabash has a very interesting "sail like" feature (photo above). It ought to be interested seeing how much snow it can collect/hold before ripping apart this Winter Season. Not sure what the designer was thinking?
As you will recall things are moving quickly at the Fred Anderson Dog Park.  Last we heard they were shooting for a mid-November opening.  Judging by this picture we found on Facebook, it looks like they're pretty close to opening.

(Hat tip:  MK & JL!)

Friday, November 21, 2014

New Dance Studio and Residential Project in Buildout Mode at 1920 S. Wabash

Upon a recent trip down south we noticed a sizable buildout in progress at the 1900 block of South Wabash:

It sparked enough interest from us to pull to the side and take a picture of the permit to see if the project description had more details:

In case you can't read the small print (you probably can't) here is what it says:
Construct a new IC five story building.  1st floor for a dance studio at 6858 sq ft.  2nd thru fifth floors for residential units at 2552 sq ft each.  A four car attached garage at 1152 sq ft and a roof deck over the fifth floor of the building at 715 sq ft per plans.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

More "High-Profile" Restaurants Coming to South Michigan Avenue

Renovations at Chicago Athletic Association Hotel (via Eater Chicago)
Let us preface this post by acknowledging that our headline might be slightly misleading, but please hear us out.  Like many things in Chicago, it often seems like the media and people in general tend to focus on the happenings on the North side.  Fine - we get it.

However, as many of us know there are interesting things happening on the south side.  We've spent some time debating whether or not Michigan avenue (the part that borders Grant Park) could see a renaissance.  We briefly spoke about it in a post we did about "What is the Chicago Cultural Mile?" but we also specifically pondered the idea from the restaurant/bar angle when it was announced that the Grant Taproom was going to open (back in 2013).

Well the Grant Taproom never happened, but it does appear that there are some very interesting restaurant concepts coming to this stretch of Michigan ave (albiet just north of Congress and what we consider the Sloop).

At 12 S. Michigan, the Chicago Athletic Club Hotel renovation is in full swing.  With that comes two exciting restaurant concepts.  The first is the acclaimed NYC burger spot, Shake Shack, which will occupy the first floor of the hotel.  This will be the second location in Chicago for Shake Shack.  The first just opened a couple of weeks ago in River North and lines have been constant.

The second is a from some well regarded Logan Square restauranteurs (via Eater Chicago):
Land & Sea Dept., the guys behind Longman & Eagle and Parson's Chicken & Fish, have also signed onto the forthcoming hotel project in the long-vacant historic landmarked building across from Millennium Park, and is planning its first restaurant project outside Logan Square. The first inkling of the project was reported in June. 
Land & Sea says they'll handle the second floor space of the building at 12 S. Michigan Ave., which was once home to the Cherry Circle Room restaurant. They'll also operate a restored bar, part of the lobby, a tasting room and a game room—the latter of which will feature bocce, billiards, chess, and more. 
Land & Sea isn't yet releasing specifics on the food or beverage programs but they term the building, which was completed in 1893, and the spaces therein "stunning." The entire project is slated to open sometime in 2015.

Opening a block south at 122 S. Michigan is another high-profile restaurant (via Michigan Avenue Magazine):
(Alpana) Singh is expecting again, as her second Chicago dining spot, Seven Lions, is set to open in the landmark Peoples Gas Building on Michigan Avenue. Singh promises that the new lunch and dinner spot will be filled with artistic elements worthy of its historic location. As for the style of food, the restaurateur is coy but promises one thing: “I can tell you for a fact that it will not be Italian.” 
Couple this with the recent news that the Essex hotel will be getting an upgrade and that the build-out for the popular Lincoln Park Burger Bar is underway at 1160 S. Michigan, it appears that there is some serious momentum on the South Michigan restaurant/bar/nightlife front.

We're just saying that there looks like to be a bevy of new options on South Michigan and we're excited.  Yes, patience is required, but we can also be excited.

Oh My Gawd! Is South Michigan the "Spa Corridor"?
Apparently as OMG Spa Signs Appear at 1620 S. Michigan

Yesterday we spoke about some restaurant momentum on South Michigan (mostly north of Roosevelt).  Today we talk about another apparent trend on South Michigan - the insane amount of spa-type businesses that are open.

A reader sends us an email which definitely gave us a chuckle:
Just walked by 1620 s Michigan and there is a pink sign up for OMG spa coming soon. 
Sign says hair and nails. Apparently michigan s of Roosevelt is becoming a real "spa" corridor, whatever that means...

It is a great observation and definitely is mind boggling to think about how all of these businesses can stay open when you would think they would cannibalize each other.  Clearly the overhead expenses are low.

Regardless, it is nice to see some retail activity come to the long vacant 1620 S. Michigan (besides a temporary real estate office and a storage center).

(Hat tip: JB!)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at Roosevelt Collection Tomorrow (Thurs, 11/20) from 6 to 7pm

Sponsored Post

Now that the holiday season is upon us, the Shops at Roosevelt Collection are ready to get into the spirit. The plaza at Roosevelt Collection will shine even brighter thanks to Alpine Artisan Studios—the famed design company responsible for decorating Rockefeller Center. A massive 36 foot Christmas tree along with life size ornaments, gift boxes, singing trees and dreidels will be on display for the season beginning November 16th.

Visitors can enjoy the festive d├ęcor along with great holiday shopping. A gorgeous setting with free parking and a bevy of shopping options make the Shops at Roosevelt Collection the most convenient way to shop in the city. Check out the newly opened Victoria's Secret/PINK and The Container Store along with shopping staples Banana Republic, Bentley's Corner Barkery, Fleet Feet, Francesca's, H&M, Haberdash, LOFT, lululemon, Republic of Couture, ULTA and White House|Black Market, or catch a movie and food and drink at Chicago's most premiere movie experience, Kerasotes Showplace Icon Theatre. Stay active with classes at Shred415 and Yoga Six.

Tree Lighting Ceremony with Alderman Solis and a live performance by the British School of Chicago. Watch the 36 foot Christmas tree light up with hot apple cider and live holiday music on Thursday, November 20th 6 pm (lighting promptly at 6:30 followed by performance).

Old Water Tank at 1132 S. Wabash Comes Down

There's been a lot of news about the iconic "Swedish flag" water tank in Andersonville getting taken down, there was apparently another water thank getting removed in the Sloop:
Here's a random happening in the Sloop today: the old water tank that had been perched above 1132 S Wabash for a long time was taken down – tall metal base and all. One moment, workers were cutting apart the base from the roof, and soon after, the entire structure was lowered to the parking lot below, adjacent to the Roosevelt El platform. 
Here's a pic from a year ago, and today's "after" photos. I wonder how long it's been out of commission. It seems rare to see those around the city these days....

(Hat tip: MK!)

Vogue Fabrics Closes at 627 W. Roosevelt As Golfsmith Will Presumably Move-in

A reader writes:
Sorry to be the one to report that today was the last day for Vogue Fabrics on Roosevelt Rd. Their Facebook page says that they lost the lease.  
"Sadly, today is the last day our Roosevelt Road store was open for business. We would like to sincerely thank everyone, staff and customers, for 29 years of love and support!! We will miss being a part of the South Loop.  
Please remember that we are still open for business. Come visit us in Evanston at both our retail location at 718 Main St. and our warehouse at 618 Hartrey Ave."
It's just another sign that the Roosevelt Road Corridor west of the Chicago river is changing.

Besides Roosevelt Collection and The Maxwell ushering in a new wave of big box national retailers, other smaller and older retail businesses have recently closed or left.  On the 600 west block of Roosevelt Vitamin Shoppe (601 W. Roosevelt), Petco (611 W. Roosevelt) and Sleepy's (605 W. Roosevelt) have all opened up stores and Golfsmith has announced their intentions to open on the same block (which we think is the space the Vogue Fabrics is vacating).

Curious to hear what everyone thinks about this?  Are you happy that national retailers are moving in and essentially kicking out the smaller, local businesses?

Or are you indifferent?  Just the way it goes...

(Hat tip:  MK & MG!)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Spoke & Bird Launch Kickstarter Campaign For Upgrades

Like many Sloopers, we've always had a warm spot for Cafe Society, the quaint and slightly quirky restaurant/bistro at 1801 S. Indiana.  While they do have indoor seating space, much of the draw is the charming patio.  We've even touted their Chicago Spinach & Guacamole role as one of our Sloopin favorites!

This past Spring word came out that new owners were bringing a new concept to the space called Bird & Spoke.  Well the new owners took over the spot in July and made some slight changes, but are now launching a kickstarter campaign to take it to the next level

Best of luck to them and hopefully they can raise the funding needed to make their plan come true.

We'd sure like to see it!

(Hat tip:  MH!)

Monday, November 17, 2014

Open Space Advocates File Lawsuit to Block Proposed Site for Lucas Museum; Tribune Critic Proposes New Site

And here we go (via Chicago Tribune):
Open space advocates made good Thursday on their promise to go to court to block the proposed site for George Lucas’ museum, asserting in a federal lawsuit that the city of Chicago and the Park District overstepped their authority in offering a lakefront location to the “Star Wars” creator. 
The site, now home to two parking lots just south of Soldier Field, was part of Lake Michigan until being filled in sometime during the 1920s, and therefore remains a specially protected waterway, the Friends of the Parks said in its lawsuit.

We're not lawyers here at Sloopin so are not going to debate the validity of this lawsuit.  Regardless, should be interesting to see how it plays out.

As opposition mounts on the legal side, alternative ideas also appear to be gaining momentum from other angels - like architecture writer, Blair Kamin at the Chicago Tribune who looks slightly south for a compromise (via Chicago Tribune premium):
There's a better spot for the proposed Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts than the one that led to the much-derided "Mount Lucas" design and prompted Friends of the Parks on Thursday to file a lawsuit in federal court against the plan. 
This site would give the museum a high-profile Lake Shore Drive address and the waterfront views coveted by its namesake, "Star Wars" creator George Lucas, without compromising the cherished openness of Chicago's shoreline. 
It would be easier to reach by public transit than the 17-acre parcel, consisting of two parking lots between Soldier Field and McCormick Place, that the city has agreed to give to Lucas.   
Tribune Graphics
And it would be more economically transformative than the chosen site, spinning off development to the historic African-American neighborhood of Bronzeville, perhaps even raising Mayor Rahm Emanuel's sagging political standing among black voters as he gears up to run for re-election.  
Emanuel knows the site well: It figures prominently in a study his administration released last year that lays out strategies for redeveloping the former Michael Reese Hospital property, which the city bought in 2009 as part of Mayor Richard Daley's failed bid to bring the Summer Olympics to Chicago.  
But the site I have in mind isn't Reese. It's a narrow, 28-acre strip of asphalt just to the east of the former hospital — a parking lot and staging area for trucks that deliver material to and from the McCormick Place convention center. Truckers and the RV owners who sometimes camp out there know it as the McCormick Place Marshalling Yards.

While we understand the compromise, something tells us that the Lucas camp might not be as enthusiastic about moving further south.  While it does provide waterfront views, it is definitely a less prestigious location and definitely would feel more isolated from the "downtown area".

So yeah, more drama and more ambiguity on future plans for the Lucas museum.  Will all of this chatter simply result in impeding the inevitable buildout?  Or could it actually make a difference and make the city and Lucas concede to a different site?  Or could it even open up the door for Lucas to say "see ya Chicago!"  I'm taking my millions somewhere else.

Time will tell, stay tuned!

(Hat tip: PB!)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Agent: "The View Looks Good for South Loop Condo Sales"

Views from a client's condo in South Loop.
Photo Eric Rojas, Broker, Kale Realty
South Loop condo sales numbers have climbed way up for the last five years. It has been pretty dramatic from 2009 when all new construction condo buildings stopped to the present time. In fact, South Loop condo sales in 2012 were up 94% over 2011. Crazy!  
There were of course reasons for this increase. Demand started to catch up with the lack of inventory due to the complete halt in building. Prices were relatively cheap in the improving market. Interest rates were low (and still are). The original "investors" in these buildings were foreclosed or forced to short sell at great prices (if you would take on the risk).  
Since that time condo associations have stabilized. The health of a condo association is the X factor in your decision to buy in one building or another. As buildings took control and amended by-laws and rules to be more owner friendly and prudent buyers felt more secure in making the investment. Sales happened and prices began to rise again.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Recently On the Sloopin Message Board...

Have a random South Loop question you've been contemplating?  Want to join (or start) a book club?  Need a handyman recommendation?  We've got the place for you to find and/or start a conversation - the Sloopin Message Board!

Here are some of the recent topics/conversation that have happened over the last month:

Rees House Move Time-Lapse Movie

In case you missed the Harriet Rees House moving down the block yesterday, we were able to find a fun time lapse video on Youtube:
(Hat tip:  RJ!)