Friday, October 31, 2008

14th Street CTA Repair

Message from the Alderman:

Your invited to an important discussion about a CTA Construction Project on 14th Place, between State Street and Wabash Avenue. The CTA will begin maintenance repairs to the elevated structure from November 3rd, 2008 through December 5, 2008. The much needed repair work will provide limited access to the alley beneath CTA's structure; "No Parking" resitrictions will be in effect during work activity; and there will be a substantial amount of noise during construction.

WHEN: Monday, November 3rd, 2008 at 6:30 p.m.

WHERE: Soka Gakkai-1455 S. Wabash

Obama = Good for Chicago 2016

It's been said a million times on Sloopin and other media outlets, but here is another article, this time by the Chicago Examiner, talking about Obama and what it means for the Chicago 2016 Olympic bid. A point that sometimes gets lost is the alternative choice for President and it's ramifications for the bid. McCain supposedly has a icy relationship with the IOC due to the Salt Lake Controversy:

"When the Salt Lake City bribery scandal exploded in 1999, McCain pointedly "invited" IOC then-president Juan Antonio Samaranch to be questioned in a Congressional hearing looking into the matter of IOC members taking bribes from Salt Lake officials, and the overall gift-grabbing culture of the IOC. Samaranch never showed, but the request -- and McCain's correct assertion that blame be spread beyond Salt Lake -- did not make McCain popular among IOC members, a body with a reputation for a long memory."

Here are some other Sloopin links to old relevant Olympic stories:

Is Obama Nomination Good for Chicago?

President Obama to Lead Chicago 2016 Bid Presentation

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Room 21 - Info from Chicagoist

The Chicagoist just posted some information about a one year anniversary party for Room 21. Although I've never been there, I've heard good things.

Anyone have any thoughts on this place?

Museum Park West Starts to Grow

Yo Chicago has a new post about Museum Park West. As of now the building is supposed to be done and ready to live in by the end of 2009. They also talk about the other buildings planned for Roosevelt...take a look at the post.

Here is an old Sloopin post about these buildings on Roosevelt.

President Obama to Lead Chicago 2016 Bid Presentation?

It seems like he might have some other important issues to address (economy, war, health care, energy, and on and on), but according to this article by Michael Sneed in the Chicago Sun Times that’s the scoop:

“A top city Olympic source claims the plan is for Obama to present the major pitch to an International Olympic Committee delegation at the end of March or beginning of April.”

Although this would obviously help Chicago’s chances to land the Olympics, I don’t know how it would sit with the rest of the country…but who cares about them.

Transportation and Parking Studies for the SLoop

Another article talking about the transportation and parking studies in the South Loop. I’m glad this is on the cities radar as it’s probably a good sign of future plans and improvements for the neighborhood.

For some other posts in regards to transportation in the south loop see the following:

School adopts the "South Loop Way"

Looks like the South Loop School Model (at 1212 S. Plymouth) is being copied due to it's recent success. Good sign for families in the neighborhood...a city public school that seems to be working.

Congress Parkway Gets a Makeover

The northern border of the South Loop is finally getting a makeover. Congress Parkway, which is a major transportation artery for the city and often overlooked, will be going through some major improvements. Besides basic street maintenance, it sounds like there will also be some aesthetic improvements (trees, benches, pedestrian improvements, etc):

"Congress is heading for some radical changes, according to plans Attarian shared with curious South Loop residents at a community meeting last week. The ideas aren't yet finalized, and Illinois Department of Transportation must also approve a formal proposal. But the contours of the $19 million overhaul are in place. Construction could start in 2009, with the work completed over two years."

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sloopin's Grand Plan: CTA and the Chicago 2016 Olympic Bid Solution

So for a week or two Sloopin has been talking about the CTA and potential new stops in the South Loop. As we’ve mentioned in other posts, the biggest wild card is the bid for the 2016 Olympics. As stated when the IOC reviewed the initial bid:

“The role of public transport in a Chicago games is not clear,” the IOC evaluation team wrote. While the use of the lakefront for numerous sports venues is appealing, it added, those venues are “not in close proximity” to train lines that can efficiently move tens of thousands of athletes, officials and spectators.

So with that said, below are some ideas that Sloopin has in regards to solving that problem. Our options focus on the Central and South Cluster as those are probably the two most critical to Chicago’s bid. The West and North Clusters have less of a role in the bid. The West Cluster is already set up well with public transportation (pink line) and the North Cluster is another story, but we’re not going to focus on that now.

The image below is a divided into three different illustrations:

  1. Far Left Map - is the current CTA and Metra maps with the proposed Olympic venues marked with the “X”. The Red “X’’s are venues and the Black “X” is the Olympic Village.
  2. Center Map – is the same map, with the addition of the black line. This black line marks railroad tracks that currently run the Metra, South Shore and commercial train. Our idea revolves around using these tracks for a new CTA line (so we must assume this is a possibility). Since it’s expensive and often legally tough to get new real estate for trains, it seems that these are already there and could be used to address some of the concerns of the IOC. We will get into the specifics later.
  3. Far Right Map – are the different options our ideas. We’ve numbered the options to reflect our opinion in terms of ease, cost and planning (so option 1 is the most likely and option 3 would be the least likely). These options take into account current planning by the RTA (see earlier post). The connector idea will ultimately connect the black line to the green line and create a “South” Loop.

So now that you’ve seen the bigger picture, let’s dive deeper into each option:

Option 1 – The 16th and 18th street station

As you can see by the illustration below, the black line already stops at 27th (where the Olympic village would be), McCormick Place (where many of the sports and the press center will be) and 18th street (which has a bridge that goes over LSD to Soldier field and Northerly Island).

The way to connect this to the EL is by utilizing the commercial train tracks that turn west at 16th street (which you can see in the red box). I doubt the CTA could use the same tracks, but maybe they could build something that runs above these train tracks.

The black line would connect to the existing EL lines at 16th between Wabash and State Street. Our idea calls for a new station for the 3 existing lines and the new black line (red, green and orange line already use the tracks). The station is marked by the blue oval.

The pros for Option 1 are as follows:

  • Utilizes existing train track real estate. This would enable the city to build over or use existing tracks, which probably would save a lot of money.
  • City would not need to take over real estate or drastically change existing lines
  • It connects to all key South and Central Cluster venues to the greater EL system
  • It connects McCormick Place and the Olympic village to the Main Stadium in Jackson Park.
  • Creates a new developmental corridor on 16th – 18th street

The cons/questions for Option 1 are:

  • Could the EL use the commercial tracks on 16th street?
  • How expensive would this be?

Option 2 – Cermak Station

This option is very similar to Option 1, however it won’t access the 18th street Metra stop. The black line would now serve the 27th street stop (where the Olympic village would be) and McCormick place.

Option 2 calls for the black line to run either under or over ground along Cermak and connect with the Green line at Cermak between Wabash and State streets (which is the portion within the red box in the picture below). This option calls for a stop at Cermak for both the green and black lines (which is noted by the blue oval).

The pros for Option 2 are as follows:

  • See Option 1 pros
  • Creates a new developmental corridor leading to McCormick place (good for tourists and conventions)
  • It has adequate space between the Roosevelt stop (which is on the 1200 block. Option 1 - the 16th station obviously will only be 4 blocks away from Roosevelt)

The cons/questions for Option 2 are:

  • The city would have to build on Cermak Street, which could be costly.
  • People have raised concerns about the neighborhood in this area (however, by 2016 we think the neighborhood will look very different especially if this type of development happens).

Option 3 – Randolph Stop

Option 3 could be the best, however our guess is that it would cost the most and have the biggest disruption to the current system and city. Again, the bulk of the idea is to use the existing Metra and South Shore train tracks that go along the south portion of LSD, through Grant Park and finally ending at Randolph street (under Millennium Park).

The biggest question is how and where would this line connect to the existing EL system. In the illustration below, you can see the black line eventually linking to the Red Line at State and Lake. The line would then loop South and head toward Jackson Park on the existing green line tracks. This option has a lot of variables, opportunities, questions and concerns. However, if the funds exist, it would probably be the best solution because:

  • It provides closer public transit access to the lake front (IOC concern)
  • It does a better job of linking to all existing El lines and the Loop
  • Has potential to link to the Block 37 Super Station (if that ever happens) and both airports
  • It still connects to McCormick Place, the Olympic Village and the Main Stadium

However, the biggest concern in our mind would be how much would this cost? To connect this in the loop seems like it would be very expensive.

Olympic Line Connector

This is used in all three of our ideas and would link the existing green line tracks to the existing Metra and South Shore tracks. This would create a “South” Loop and give everyone access to all relevant Olympic Venues (McCormick Place, Olympic Village, Main Stadium and other Olympic Venues). Assuming the CTA can use existing tracks, the only new construction piece would be linking the 63rd street Metra station to the 63rd street Cottage Grove CTA station (which is within the red box on the illustration).

As you can see, the idea calls for this new Black Line (or Olympic Line which I’m sure the IOC would like) to run counter clockwise.

Overall, all of the ideas try to address the IOC’s concerns:

  • Closer public transit train access to venues and the lakefront
  • Ability to move thousands of athletes, spectators and officials to all of the venues

We also tried to avoid ridiculous, costly projects and ideas since the bid team is trying to not make this too costly (Option 3 probably would cost some coin).

So this is Sloopin's Grand Plan. Please let us know if you agree, how you would change things or just plainly what you think?

We have some other thoughts on the Olympics and development, but we will tackle those later.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

It's Going to be Cold in April

Hopefully the IOC sees past the weather...the USOC did, but this group will be less familiar with Chicago and probably more swayed by the weather.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

First Stop for the IOC: CHICAGO

Chicago will be the first stop for the International Olympic Committee's 2016 Summer Games evaluation commission on April 2nd through 8th. The 10-member commission will then go to Tokyo on April 14th through 20th, Rio on April 27th through May 3rd and Madrid on May 4th to 9th.

The IOC will choose a host on Oct 9th 2009 in Copenhagen.

History in the South Loop

We've heard the talk about it, but it is now being confirmed by Obama's staff. Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign will hold what it hopes will be an Election Night celebration in Grant Park in Chicago, a campaign aide confirmed this morning.

The celebration will be in the South Loop or more specifically the south portion of Hutchison Field. This area has been home to various historic events such as hosting a papal visit in 1979 and a Chicago Bulls NBA championship celebration in 1991. It more routinely hosts Lollapalooza, sporting events and the Taste of Chicago.

See you there and hopefully it will be a true celebration (know on wood)!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Circle Line Concept

Thanks to John for bringing up one of my favorite Chicago topics, the CTA and its future developments. We know this is a double edged sword given the recent block 37 super station debacle, but it’s still fun to dream. This brings us to the “Circle Line” concept, which was presented in 2002:

Does anyone have any links to more recent talks about the “Circle Line”? This plan addresses some things I think are very important:

  1. Linking the northwest to the near north neighborhoods
  2. Providing a much needed public transportation option at the United Center (the bus system is pretty horrible)

But the main thing it misses is access to the lake. This is tough, mainly because it would cost a ton of money, but it is one of the main criticisms of the current Chicago 2016 Olympic plan (not a clear explanation of how the public transportation would be linked to the water front and sporting venues). I’m working on a post that talks about this, so stay tuned.

But in the meantime does anyone have ideas on how to improve the “circle line” concept? What about creating access to the lake?

Grant Park Tower 3 & 4

Thanks to Jeremiah D. for directing us to the latest plans for the prestigious developments along Roosevelt. For those who are not familiar with the plans, Musuem Park one (far left) is almost done and Museum Park Two (second from the left) just started construction this summer. I hope these buildings still are constructed. It would frame the South End of Grant Park beautifully and really be a sign of the South Loops architectural influence on the city.

This article also reports good news about the vitality of the South Loop in a tough economy and marketplace (even though this was prior to the financial issues that hit us in Oct.):

Even with declining Chicago condo sales in many neighborhoods, one section seems to be holding its own and maybe even gaining ground. Central Station is still attracting buyers and Chicago real estate developer Gerald Fogelson of Fogelson Companies is confident enough to move forward with the first of two new towers.

Friday, October 17, 2008

South Loop History Lesson

The South Loop was one of Chicago's first residential districts, which recent redevelopment has again transformed into a residential neighborhood.

Working-class immigrants, primarily Irish, initially settled south of the young city near the river while the well-to-do built houses along Michigan and Wabash Avenues. Railroads entering Chicago in the 1850s established passenger stations and freight houses at the southern edge of the business district. The Chicago Fire of 1871 spared the area, but displaced Loop businesses found temporary quarters there. Another fire, in 1874, ended the area's remaining residential character.

For more information here is the link.

How the City will pay for the Olympic Village

Although this article is from July 08, it goes into depth on how the city is going to fund the $85million for buying the Michael Reese Hospital and turning it into the 2016 Olympic village.

Again, for the South Loop and the future development of the south side, I think this would be good. However, from a ordinary citizen's perspective I could see how they would be a little weary.

Also, about three weeks ago the Sun-Times reported that this sale had hit some bumps and is now uncertain. Stay tuned...there is still a long way to go with the Olympic bid.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Chicago 2016 in the Lead

From what I’ve read, we shouldn’t get too excited since the IOC members are a fickle bunch. Anyway, here is the article that was in Around the Rings. Here are the rankings according to an online bookmaker:

Online bookmaker says Chicago is on the money as 4/5 favorites followed by Tokyo at 9/4, Rio 9/2 and Madrid 13/2 – and similar odds are being offered by bookmakers around the globe. But gamblers are warned, IOC members are an unpredictable bunch and odds makers have been wrong for the past three consecutive bids including 2010, 2012 and 2014.

The next major deadline is February 12th, 2009 when the candidate cities submit there final plans.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Museum Park One

Here is a picture from the weekend of Museum Park One. The building looks great and is an impressive new symbol of the South Loop rising.

What do you think about this building?

A New Green Line Stop in the South Loop

Looks like the CTA and RTA are investigating a new green line stop in the South Loop. Here is the statement from the RTA:

Potential Green Line Station at 18th Street or Cermak: This study would identify potential uses and design in areas adjacent to the Green Line at 18th Street and Cermak Road and address development on these key east-west corridors in the south loop. Through the study we will chose to focus on one of the alternatives over the other and develop a more refined corridor plan for the appropriate corridor.

As of now, I think the 18th street stop would potentially be better for a couple reasons:
  1. It could be a station for the Green, Red and Orange line (access for more people to the South Loop)
  2. There is a bridge on 18th that connects the lake front to the South Loop Community
  3. There is already a red line stop at Cermak

However, the Cermak green line stop could be good because:
  1. Cermak would be very close and within walking distance to McCormick place. Obviously this has huge benefits for tourism, conventions and potentially the Chicago 2016 bid.
  2. It also seems like Cermak could be a big retail, bar, restaurant, shopping area in the future (again if the Olympics came to Chicago it would be great)
The big wild card in this evaluation is the 2016 Olympic Bid. Since plans currently call for the Olympic village to be just south of McCormick place, city and Olympic planners need to find a way to have a CTA stop within or very close to the Olympic Village (which would link the village to the rest of the city). I have some thoughts on this idea, but I will save them for another time.

What do you think would be better? An 18th or Cermak green line stop?

Is Obama Nomination good for Chicago 2016?

I guess it goes without saying and kind of seems like a duh, but Chicago Business has a story stating that if Obama becomes president Chicago's Olympic Bid would get an additional push. Both McCain and Obama said they are in favor of the bid, but naturally Obama (who seems to be loved throughout the world - see his rock star Tour of Europe and the Middle East this summer) would be a better advocate on the world's stage:

"If he was to win, our chances would significantly improve," says U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Chicago. "With the 76 votes you need, and looking at how they're distributed around the world, his victory would be key."

Obama has appeared on videos for Chicago 2016 and also had a guest appearance at the celebration this summer when Chicago became a candidate city. We've heard a lot about earmarks during this election about a couple of billion dollars to update the CTA? Come on President Obama, hook-up your Chicago Brethren!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Country Fest Video

I don't love country, but regardless here is the scene if you were interested to see how the Chicago Country Fest went. They got some good weather and to be honest a pretty good amount of people.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Happy Cleaners are Happy Cleaners

As you may or may not believe the dry cleaner called Happy Cleaners has employees that are happy cleaners. They really like to clean your stuff.

Update: so they told me on Thursday that my stuff would be done on Monday, but you guessed it, not ready. Pretty disappointed, but they gave us $3 off (what a joke).

South Loop Dining: Ma and I (1234 S Michigan Ave)

So tonight we went to Ma & I, which is a mid-priced restaurant with a variety of Asian dishes. I’ve been a couple time and have been very pleased with the overall atmosphere and most importantly the food.

However, tonight was a little different. We decided for the sushi and unfortunately we were a little disappointed. I went for the Millennium specialty role which sounded good, but all the ingredients didn’t work well together (mainly due to the cilantro being the overwhelming taste). My girlfriend went for a sweet potato tempura role (which is exactly what it sounds like) and a Uni Q role (which is your standard eel role). She usually loves eel, but wasn’t feeling this one.

Moral of the story, great place, but don’t go for the sushi. Do one of the noodle or thai dishes.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Things to do in the South Loop this Weekend - 10/10

Need something to do this weekend? How about running 26 miles? If that sounds interesting, but intimidating you could just watch the Chicago Marathon which starts early on Sunday Morning (10/12) in Millennium Park and then wraps up in the South Loop on the south side of Grant park. The race goes all throughout the city, but the final stretch comes right through our back yard and down Michigan Avenue.

Or if watching people torture themselves by running isn’t your thing, you can check out the Chicago Country Music Festival which will be in the parking lot between Soldier Field and McCormick Place. Highlights include Gretchen Wilson and Taylor Swift among others.

Weather should be nice this weekend, so take advantage of it.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

What's that Big Building on Roosevelt?

If you drive down Roosevelt you can’t help but notice a massive construction project just west of Target (between Clark and the river). What is it? It is the Roosevelt Collection which is a massive mixed use retail/restaurant/condo/movie/gym/everything complex that is being developed.

I have mixed feelings on the project mostly because I don’t like big box commercialization of neighborhoods. However, I bet it will be convenient and I bet I will go there a lot. I’m still hoping that they have some local stores and shops that are unique to Chicago and unique to the South Loop. We’ll have to wait and see.

Anyway here is some picture of the project (front left with the court yard), looks nice but then again any picture with the Sears Tower looks nice to me:

Your thoughts?

Is this good, bad or both for the South Loop?

Chicago 2016 Olympics Bid won't be effected by economy

So I’m a big proponent of Chicago’s 2016 Olympic Bid. I think it would be a great chance to showcase Chicago to the world. I also think the South Loop would play a big role in the development for the Olympics (which I’m always a fan of). With that said, here is an article by the IHT quoting Patrick Sandusky (Chicago's bid spokesman) as saying the economic crisis shouldn’t effect the bid:

"We don't feel that we'll have constraints by the federal government saying 'We can't put any more money into this because of the financial crisis'. It's not something we think would impact Chicago individually, it's more of a global phenomenon."

I’ll be posting articles, documents and opinions about the Olympics as I see fit, so stay tuned.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

If he knows one thing it's good steak!

I’ve heard rumors that President Bush spent his 60th birthday in our wonderful city. After doing some digging, I found that this was true and that he enjoyed a great dinner at The Chicago Firehouse restaurant in the South Loop. Here is a great picture from the dinner (looks like his usual self, a deer in highlights).

Although he’s an idiot and is in the process of ruining our country there is probably one thing everyone can agree on…he knows a good steak! I mean shit he’s from Texas.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Best and Most Bar Promotions in Chicago

I went to Weather Mark Tavern on Michigan Ave. between 14th and 16th in the South Loop. I go pretty often and like the place. However, nothing really new to report except I noticed they have a ton of promotions. I mean it’s crazy; they have $2.50 Miller Light Drafts or a contest to win a Miller Light Bears Grill or a buy a glass of Bass and get a glass for free.

Anyway, it just struck me as a lot. I don’t know if it’s desperation to get business or just a great thing. I’ll let you be the judge. Regardless, if you want good deals or a chance to get/win bar stuff this is your place.

I think they also have tarot readings…not sure about that one, but whatever floats your boat.

Mayor Dailey Lives In the South Loop?

So I've read and heard that Mayor Daley lives in the South Loop. Supposedly he has a townhouse somewhere between 13th street and 16th street somewhere around Indiana Avenue. Anyone know if this is true?

What Happens to a Developing Community When The Economy Sucks?

Your guess is as good as mine, but in the short term it sounds like development in the South Loop is bound to slow down (however realize this is not unique to us, it’s happening across the country at a great pace):

As Congress begins considering another bailout package for the banking sector, developers behind high-profile projects in the South Loop and West Loop are delaying building. Pre-sales of units are slower. They're waiting to seek construction financing. Some condo buildings are now entirely rental.

Here is the full article which is called Market Madness and talks about condo development in the sloop.

Flacos Tacos = Mouth full of Awesome

After a full evening of drinking, Dr. Dick, Nick D, Jimbo and I decided to try the newest Mexican joint in printer’s row. Although it was around 2am in the morning, the place had some action. Random dudes chowing on tacos, local college girls enjoying some burritos, and inebriated young professionals seeking yumminess.

I opted for the pollo burrito (which is chicken those of you who didn’t take Spanish) and was very pleased with the decision. The burrito comes standard with cheese, cilantro, onion and in my case chicken. There are other options if you need more, I didn’t. They also serve red and green salsa which was delicious however dangerous to squirt out of the bottle they come in (warning, point the bottle away from you otherwise it will explode in your face).

Take it with a grain of salt due to my night of boozing, but this was one of the better burritos I’ve had in awhile. I’m going back!

Flaco's Taco's Website