I spoke with the property managers at Library Tower and they said the second retail place is being rented out to something along the lines of Illinois Broadcast School. Small place for a school, but if you go by you can clearly see it is some type of office so this makes sense.(Hat Tip to AC)
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
A good read if you like these things!
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Regardless, we wait patiently to hear more about the retail at Roosevelt Collection. Last week, the Chicago Tribune had a small paragraph about the retail:
Windows in the plaza's storefronts now are covered with colorful vinyl murals, but eventually, said Lisa Balis, senior vice president of retail leasing and marketing, 300,000 square feet worth of retail space will be occupied by a mix of local and national chains. The retailers to include apparel, home furnishings and accessories, health and beauty products, shoes, jewelry, and restaurants are expected to move in by late 2010 and early 2011, she said in a statement.Again, more vague statements. It would be great to have all of these types of stores, but if you already have some people lined up, why can't we know? I guess we will just have to wait....
Monday, December 28, 2009
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
If you've lived in the South Loop (especially on Michigan Avenue) for awhile you probably can relate to this post. We've been receiving a lot of emails from readers recently asking us about the mysterious A Cappella storefront on the southeast corner of 13th and Michigan Avenue.
As long as we've been in the South Loop, this restaurant looks like it could open any second. The tables are set, decorations are on the wall, but we've never seen anyone inside. A reader writes:
Recently I was walking past A Cappella Bistro looking inside I saw lights on and a lot of activity 4 or 5 people working. Do you have any info about this restaurant opening soon?Anyone have any insight on this? We still have never seen anyone inside.
We've heard a lot of far fetched theories on this place, but don't really have any proof behind any of them.
(Hat Tip: PF and BT)
For the first time we ventured over to the Deli for dinner. As expected the food was the same as lunch, but the refreshing thing was that the place was calm. You weren't in a long line and they weren't churning out orders at a frenetic pace.
The man cutting the corned beef for us was quite friendly and probably spent 5 minutes talking with us on a variety of topics (such as real estate, in-laws, and the dinner business at the deli). Although we were eager to eat our sandwiches, it was nice to get some friendly conversation as well.
If you've been to Manny's you know that there are three rooms of seating since it's typically super busy during the lunchtime hours. During dinner, the only room open for seating was the first room where the cafeteria line is. There were probably 10 or 15 people eating in the restaurant, so it was pleasant and enjoyable.
We love Manny's...even for dinner!
Monday, December 21, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009A Local School Council Meeting for the South Loop SchoolLocation: South Loop School, Little Theater at 1212 S. Plymouth CourtTime: 6pmAgenda & Discussion: Review the recommendation to the board that was approved on 12/14/09 which reads:Relocate 6-8th grade students to NTA, in conjunction with the creation of a 9th grade class as a foundation for a K-12 support school which would have both a neighborhood and selective component. 8th grade graduating students from South Loop School would have first choice on 9th grade slots. The move of the students to NTA must be accompanied by funding and resource allocations which would provide the following to our middle school students, staff, and families:
- Implementation and funding of necessary components to ensure student/staff health and safety, including but not limited to: Student ID system, dedicated security guard, dedicated/separate entrances, dismissal/entry security assistance, dedicated parking, a hot breakfast/lunch program.
- Staggered start times
- Busing from/to South Loop School main building to NTA site
- Administrative Staff to support a third site, to include but not be limited to: Vice-Principal, Clerical, Janitorial, Security, Lunchroom etc.
- Commitment of a top-notch Principal with high school experience to provide the experience necessary to establish a K-12 school.
- Commitment on the part of CPS to add a grade year-after year to this school to achieve the goal of making it a K-12 school.
- Availability of AP classes/ability to obtain high school credit
- An expanded foreign language program with funding for a Spanish Teacher
- A Full Time Band instructor with a middle/high school band program.
- An expanded Athletics program with funding for team sport programs and development of a ball field
- A Technology Support resource
- An Art Education resource
- An additional counseling position to support students (particularly in support of LRE)
- Funding for extracurricular programming commensurate with high school programs.The establishment of the above would include involvement by a Parent leadership group to help identify needs, define the programs, set schedules, access safety concerns, etc.Revisit other options including the "kick the can" option of closing entry to new gifted classes and the 5 year plan proposed by Lynne PieperDiscuss the recommendations given by Ms. Shelton:
- Move only the 7th-8th graders to NTA for school year 2010-2011 with recommendations from the above plan
- Expand to the 9th grade in year 2011-2012 adding a grade each year resulting in a high school from 9th-12th grade
- Reopen 4 pre-k classrooms in the ECCEstablish an ad hoc leadership committee to reach out to the 6-7th grade teachers and students to get their input on this idea and what they would like included, etc. Also the counselor and other teachers who would like to participate by giving suggestions.
Friday, December 18, 2009
Also, you won't be bombarded with commercials, because there is no pre-show advertising.You also won't have to deal with people looking for seats during the opening minutes, because there is no seating once the movie starts.
Just wanted to say congrats to Epic Burger for their expansion into Lincoln Park. The Original South Loop Epic Burger, which opened its first restaurant in our neighborhood in May of 2008, is located at 517 S. State. For more info about the restaurant and its expansion check out this link.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
They also found a piece on the topic that aired on WGN. For those of you interested it's a good sneak peak inside the theater and the lounge:
In other restaurant news, another reader writes:
Thought I'd drop you a tip and let you know something's going into the old Sam's location at Wabash and Roosevelt. It's gonna be a restaurant/lounge. From my contact: they purchased the furniture/appliances from the old Blue Water Grill that was at 520 N. Dearborn that has since lost it's lease and closed down...maybe a bit upscale? I'll let ya know if I hear any more!
UPDATE: We walked by the old Sam's space and it appears that there are a lot of chairs and tables stacked up. Does this give more validity to the email above? Maybe. Take it for what it's worth.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
Thwarted in a bid to extend a $26.2 million loan, the owner of a Roosevelt Road retail center whose tenants include Best Buy Co. and Bed Bath and Beyond Inc. has file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.When the five-story project at 555 W. Roosevelt Road was completed in March 2008, it was part of a wave of developments looking to take advantage of retailers' keen interest in the fast-growing commercial district. Built by developer Leon Joffe, the development, called Joffco Square, includes 95,000 square feet of retail space and a 323-car garage.Now, despite signs that the credit crunch is easing, the development is another reminder of the tough challenges landlords face in an era of lowered property values and stricter lending practices.
The center has a solid core of tenants under long-term leases. Best Buy has 45,000 square feet under an agreement that expires in January 2024. Bed, Bath and Beyond has 27,482 square feet under an agreement that expires in January 2018.(Hat Tip: Nitman!)
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As always, we appreciate all the comments!
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Construction is scheduled to start in February on Roosevelt University's new 32-story "vertical campus'' at 421-25 S. Wabash.
The building's wavelike design was based on a well-known Romanian sculpture, The Endless Column, and meant to convey that education is endless and infinite, officials said.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Also, if you really want to take your love of the hawks to the next level, you might want to buy tickets to the annual Blackhawks Convention which went on sale today. This fun event is located in the Sloop at the Hilton on Michigan Avenue:
Weekend passes for the third Blackhawks Convention go on sale at 10 a.m. Wednesday. The event will take place July 31-Aug. 1 at the Hilton Chicago. The passes can be purchased at the United Center, the Blackhawks Store on Michigan Avenue and Ticketmaster locations.Finally, if you need to be sold on the Blackhawks, enjoy their catchy retro song (which in my opinion is better then "Bear Down" or "Go Cubs Go"):
"He started by saying we spent $75 million, and the next city was going to have to spend $100 million, and we didn't even have a chance," said one attendee, paraphrasing the mayor, who was the driving force behind the bid. "It was all politics and all money. All politics and all money. (The International Olympic Committee) didn't care about the athletes, and they didn't care about the quality of the bid."
Another attendee said she came away from the 15-minute speech believing the city never understood the depth of its disadvantage. And Daley reportedly told the group that had the city known from the start that the International Olympic Committee was intent on taking the games to new regions of the globe, they never would have spent the time or the money on the effort.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
The company that collects city parking meter fees on Monday put up new signs in a confusing South Loop parking zone where cars have been getting tickets for meter violations but a city traffic-control aide had been parking for free.
The two signs went up hours after the Chicago Sun-Times published an article about the mess, which has angered people who have been paying to park along the west side of the 600 block of South Dearborn. Later, the city's Revenue Department concluded that a handful of spaces are free . . . for now.
In other local restaurant news, the Grille (at 823 S. State), hasn't been open the last couple of times we went by the spot. We're not sure the status of this place, but when we went by during the early evening the place wasn't open. As you probably remember, the restaurant was originally called UFood, but shut down shortly after it opened for some reason. Anyone know the status of the Grille?
Monday, December 7, 2009
A new Kerasotes Theaters is coming soon to Roosevelt and Clark and Al's Italian Beef is opening a new location on Adams and Jefferson. Both businesses have pledged to hire from local communities and will be accepting applications out of my Committeeman office next week.
Wednesday, December 9th from 2 to 5 p.m. representatives from both businesses will be present at my office, located at 721 S. Western Ave, to accept applications and discuss job opportunities. Come over and fill one out; don't forget to bring your resumes!
Our friend said the movie theater was a great addition to the neighborhood, eventhough he doesn't go very often. It gives people a reason to come down to the neighborhood, which in turn stimulates the area with money (which will be spent within Roosevelt Collection retail as well as other places around the Sloop).
We welcome this addition to the neighborhood!
(Hat Tip: JC, ND, and NN!)
Friday, December 4, 2009
The Printers Row Park on Dearborn Street between Polk and Harrison Streets officially opened Nov. 7, with 2nd Ward Alderman Robert Fioretti and 5th District State Representative Ken Dunkin in attendance. More than 200 people came for the elaborate event, which featured several speakers and musical interludes.
Local resident Jack Scott played the lute, and the Rev. Christopher Coon, pastor of the Urban Village Church, which holds services at Grace Place across the street from the park, gave the invocation. Mary Ivory, Gail Merritt, and other members of the South Loop Neighbors (SLN) read poetry. Members of the Columbia College band and Jones College Prep student jazz ensemble performed.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Thursday, December 3, 5:00-8:00pm
Tony Sirico (a.k.a. Paulie Walnuts) and Steve Schirripa (a.k.a. Bobby) are coming to our joint. Two of television's most famous “wise guys” will be signing bottles of Sopranos wine during their exclusive appearance at Binny's South Loop. An amazing holiday gift or stocking stuffer for under ten dollars. Bada Bing! Free valet service at the entrance on Jefferson Street!
Call 312-768-4400 for more information.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
There was a wait for booths, so we opted for the first available seat which ended up being the counter by the cash register. The menu was pretty standard, but for some reason I was having a tough time making a decision. The rest of the group didn't have that problem as they quickly ordered country-fried steak, jalapeno poppers and some roast beef sandwich. In a last second decision, I made a mistake and went for a hot dog.
It was busy, so the food took much longer then it should have. Maybe the waitress didn't put our order in or maybe they just had a ton of orders, regardless the food took awhile. Regardless, the scene was entertaining so the time passed. Once we got our food, the winner seemed to be the fellow with the country-fried steak. The hot dog was pretty gross (especially how it looked) and the roast beef sandwich although good, wasn't what our friend wanted (it was open face style).
Guy Fieri, the host of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. So apparently he's been there.
Also, when we were leaving it got a little dicey as the cops were called on a man who was trying to skip out on a bill. The on premise security guard had to run out of the place to stop the man. Luckily for us we were also leaving so we didn't see what came of that situation.
Monday, November 30, 2009
2nd Ward Christmas Toy Drive
Christmas is just around the corner!
Alderman Bob Fioretti is conducting his annual 2nd Ward Toy Drive.
If your family or your business would like to join in making Christmas a brighter holiday for less fortunate children please call our office, 312-263-9273, for information on how to donate toys or time.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
More interesting pieces from the article:
The restoration of the $4 million red brick edifice at 650 S. Clark St. built in 1914 follows the church's plan of acquiring and restoring historic structures that embody a city's aesthetic.
More than 70 buildings have been acquired around the globe as part of a multimillion dollar expansion program. More than two dozen churches are set to open in the U.S. before the end of next year.
In Chicago, the 50,212 square feet of space will accommodate worship, courses, spiritual counseling known as auditing, community outreach and church administration.
"That's one of the reasons we need such a large space," said the Rev. Jesse Wells, an ordained Scientology minister, "to accommodate all the activities."
And here is a picture from Google Maps of the building:
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Although some residents have voiced displeasure with the growth around these universities and colleges, we feel that they're good for the neighborhood in various ways. One way that was recently validated by a report commissioned by the Chicago Loop Alliance was spending:
Twenty-four higher education institutions in Chicago’s Loop, through their employees, students and own expenditures, generate more than $4 billion in regional economic activity annually, including at least $60 million in student retail purchases, according to the 2009 Higher Education Economic Impact Report and Student Survey Update released Nov. 23.Although this area was defined as the Chicago River on the north and west, the study also includes parts of the South Loop as it extends south to Roosevelt and east to Lake Shore Drive. Love them or hate them, students are an important part of our neighborhood. Without them our retail situation would most certainly be different (and probably much worse).
Commissioned by the Chicago Loop Alliance ( CLA ), with student survey data compiled by researchers at DePaul, the study shows that the Loop’s higher education sector is a vital economic engine that contributes to the growth and overall health of the economy in the Chicago region. The findings update and expand upon research released by CLA last June and in 2004.
With that in mind it's a good sign that Roosevelt University just announced that it will move forward with a new tower on the 400 block of South Wabash Avenue (see old Sloopin post on this subject). The building will serve a variety of purposes for the University and is currently planned to open in 2012. This is a block north of what we consider the Sloop, but regardless it will still impact the area:
It's definitely an interesting building.
Construction on the 32-story, $110 million building is set to begin in February on the site of the old Herman Crown Center in the 400 block of South Wabash Avenue. The groundbreaking will begin once demolition of the old building is complete, with the center itself slated to open in January 2012, officials said.
The state-of-the-art building, which will house classrooms, laboratories, a student recreation center and residence suites for more than 600 students, will be the university's first newly constructed building in the school's history, officials said.
The 469-foot-tall building will also be constructed as a "green" building and showcase a glass exterior on three sides, drawing in natural light and cutting energy costs. The new building, school officials said, would be the sixth-largest university building in the world and second in the U.S. behind the University of Pittsburgh's Cathedral of Learning.
In other higher education development, Columbia College's media production center (at 16th and State) looks to be nearing completion. Although we don't have a picture of the actual site, you will have to take our word for it...it's also an interesting building. Here is a sketch of how it is supposed to look. Although we didn't see it illuminated like the picture below, it looks very similar in our opinion:
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
The chief executive officer won his post after raising campaign cash for disgraced Gov. Rod Blagojevich. The just-departed human resources director owed her job to a powerful state senator. Other top executives have long ties to Mayor Richard M. Daley's political machine.Since it's a neighbor of Sloop and potentially could be a driving force behind growth in our neighborhood we thought some people might be interested in reading about it. It's been a brutal year for the McPier agency and the article doesn't make it sound like it's getting any better.
That's what clout looks like at the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, known as McPier, a little-understood government entity that operates the city's primary convention venue, the vast McCormick Place complex; the adjacent McCormick Hyatt Regency Hotel, and the lakefront tourist center Navy Pier.
(image from chicagobusiness.com)
Terry specifically calls out the diverse wait staff and says that's why he likes the place:
Although it's a nice thought, we would argue that many of the city's restaurants also have diverse wait staffs, just not very diverse clientele. For a highly segregated city, the South Loop in tends to be pretty diverse. Maybe that was the point he was going for...
For 70 years, the DeMilio-Thomas family has owned and operated Blackie's restaurant and bar at the corner of Clark and Polk. I love the apple sauce pancakes, but it's the diverse and longtime staff, which includes African Americans, Latinos and Italian Americans, that keeps me coming back.
It is a snapshot of what the rest of the city should be like.
Anyway, back to the article. It provides a nice history of the joint and even drops some names of the famous celebrities that have graced the place over the years:
Blackie's is across the street from the old Dearborn train station. During the 1940s and 1950s, there was no telling who you might run into having a beer at Blackie's. Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., the Harlem Globetrotters, Rocky Marciano, Sam Cooke and Lena Horne were just a few of the celebrities who ate and drank there on their way in or out of town on the Santa Fe Super Chief.
The Three Stooges and the Marx Brothers also spent time in Blackie's. One night, the Stooges and the Marx boys got into a food fight when one side criticized the other's comedic skills.
"It was right over there near the window,'' Jeffrey says, pointing behind. "I can't remember who my grandfather said started it.''
(Hat Tip: SC!)
Monday, November 23, 2009
Cameras (red-light cameras at intersections) are said to reduce accidents, but collision records compiled by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) indicate that accidents increased at many city intersections the year after red-light cameras were installed. In fact slightly more intersections saw an increase than a decrease, the data show.
The city tells a very different story. Crash statistics compiled by the city reflect broad success in reducing accidents with cameras, and the city could not explain why the numbers are so different.
Overall the article claims that nearly 60 percent of intersections with red-light cameras had an increase in accidents based on the following analysis:
With or without cameras accident totals fluctuate year to year at every intersection. For that reason the Tribune analysis of accident trends treated crash numbers that rose or fell less than 10 percent as essentially unchanged.
The read from the state numbers is this: Although some Chicago intersections indeed appear to benefit from the presence of cameras, nearly 60 percent do not.
So what about the Sloop? As of now only the State and Roosevelt intersection has statistics to look at:
So based off of IDOT's information, the Tribune would classify this South Loop intersection as one where the presence of red-light cameras caused more accidents. The city's numbers would prove the opposite. Judge for yourself.
The one thing these numbers don't take into account is increased traffic. Although we're not 100% sure, we assume the amount of traffic in the South Loop (particularly at this intersection) has increased from 2005 to 2008.
For more information specific to other intersection check out this Chicago Tribune link.
There are new “pay to park” kiosks along 18th Street. I noticed that formerly free street parking had been converted to metered parking during the week ending 11/13/09. The formerly free spaces are on the south side of 18th between Wabash and Michigan and the north and south sides of 18th between Wabash and State. There could have been others, but these are the stretches that I noticed.
As a traveling consultant, I often get stuck with rental cars over the weekend. I was infuriated last Friday when I tried to park in the formerly free spaces that I used to count on. Of course, the still-free parking on the south side of 18th between State and Clark, was packed with cars that could not park in newly metered spaces. I had to park west of Clark. Granted, this probably isn’t the worst parking situation in the city, but knowing that Chicago is not even benefiting from these really makes me angry. I did a quick search of the Internet, but I couldn’t find a map delineating free and metered stretches in the South Loop. Do you know if one exists?
We didn't have much luck finding a map either, does anyone know if one exists?
(Hat Tip to Jay for the email and pic!)
Friday, November 20, 2009
On Tuesday night, park district planners and its contractors shopped four different concepts for a future iteration of Northerly, culling feedback from hundreds of residents in a three-hour session downtown.Since our neighborhood is the closest to the land (and yes we consider this in the Sloop) we're very interested to see how, when and if any of this actually happens. We reference New York a lot on this blog, because we're a big fan of their public spaces (especially Central Park). We love the beauty of Grant Park and Millenium Park, but they feel a little overly manicured in our opinion (which is also the case for some places within central park). However, in Central Park there are many places where you feel like you're in a natural park and don't feel like you're in a bustling city.
The additions contemplated in the designs range from the natural (like dunes, berms, trees; one idea calls for a river running through the island. In another, there are a series of new barrier islands in Lake Michigan) to the athletic (beaches, a canoe and kayaking course) to the cultural (a Great Lakes research institute, an amphitheater, a nature center).
Jeanne Gang, principal at Studio Gang Architects, one of the firms working on the designs, said a video message played at the beginning of the night that past input about Northerly indicated a preference for a natural space that wasn’t thronging all the time.
“People wanted to see this as this ecologically rich and diverse space — not a Millennium Park that’s super busy all throughout it,” Gang said. “Because it’s so close to the water and further away from the city, it’s a place where you can actually find some solitude.”
From reading some of the coverage on the plans for Northerly Island, it sounds like the island could evolve into something similar to central parks 'natural' areas. This would be great! Although the current 'natural' space on Northerly Island is serene, it's nothing special and actually a little boring in our opinion. The concept pictured below would make this area interesting and somewhere we would like to go to explore.
The one major request we have is to provide some form of access to the island besides Solidarity drive (which is the street to get to the Planetarium). Every sketch we've seen addresses this problem, so it's obviously on the planners radar.
In terms of next steps for the planning of Northerly Island, the Tribune reports:
Tribune reporter Erika Slife reports that park district officials said they will analyze the feedback they got from the nearly 200 people who attended the meeting and will make another presentation to the public in 2010. Perhaps the Friends of Meigs Field, who boycotted the workshop, will attend next time around. For now, the idea of bringing back the airport is thankfully off the public policy agenda. This is one place where nature, not technology, should prevail.Also, as you might remember we had a post on Sloopin talking about another design for Northerly Island (as part of the Daniel Burnham 100th anniversary celebration: Big. Bold. Visionary. Chicago Considers the Next Century Exhibit). This idea, pictured below didn't purely picture the island as a natural oasis, but more of a functional and practical space that would serve as a place for a variety activities. This idea is much more conceptual, but wanted people to get a full sense of some of the ideas being floated around.
(Images from Chicago Journal and Chicago Tribune)
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Last week we took in the soulful folky singer Ray Lamontagne and although he was solid, the venue slightly overshadowed the crooner. The auditorium is truly a remarkable thing. The murals, architectural detail and sheer size is something to behold. For this show, Lamontagne played a stripped down concert where it was just him, a rug and a acoustic guitar. In fairness to the artist, he really does have an amazing voice, but the venue probably wasn't the most conducive to a solo performance.
In between songs, Lamontagne seemed nervous and at times awkward as he stumbled through rambling stories. We don't blame him though, the venue is pretty intimidating as there are three balconies (with the top two pretty high up and seemingly ontop of the performer). Although we weren't that high up, we've heard that it's not the best place to take in a show or performance.
Regardless, the venue was truly beautiful and classic. It has signs of deterioration, but any building that's 100+ years is going to. It also had a slight lean to the staircase, but we like to call that character.
Anyway, the Auditorium Theater has a pretty wide variety of shows (music, balet, comedy, etc) so we highly recommend checking out whatever floats your boat.
For more info on the history of the theater here is a wikipedia page on the topic.
And for those of you who like Ray Lamontagne, enjoy:
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
I got the sense that these homes sold for more than many had expected — “The developers have to be thrilled with this,” I heard one agent say. The units sold for an average of $276 per square foot, down 26 percent from an original average of $375 per square foot. In all, sales surpassed $11.2 million.
The auction was well attended and resulted in the sale of 20 units (several at reserve) at prices ranging from $187,000 to $316,000. You can see more details on pricing from commenter neo at CribChatter.
We love Manny's (1141 S. Jefferson), the famous Jewish Deli, however it's a little pricey. If this is a concern for you, today is your lucky day. Groupon has a deal for Manny's where you pay $11 and get $22.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
Thursday, November 12, 2009
For more information on Guerrilla Gay Bar South Loop, here are some posts we did on the group a couple of months ago or you can check out their facebook page.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Code of Conduct is:
an environmentally conscious high-end tattoo studio integrated with a clothing boutique located in the South Loop neighborhood of Chicago, IL.And their mission statement is:
Code of Conduct has blossomed from a shop name into a mantra that we as partners and entrepreneurs choose to abide by in both business and life. We are a team of young energetic professionals - the respect, trust and admiration we have for one another are the roots of our Code. We have chosen to take action in a time of economic uncertainty. We believe in the future of our generation and those to follow. We believe in a Code of Conduct.They also have a twitter page and a website (that isn't very evolved yet).
(Hat Tip: JC!)
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Monday, November 9, 2009
Seared tuna tossed with citrus soy dressing on organic saladTo be honest, this doesn't do it justice to the dish. We love ourselves some seared tuna and have tried out variations of this fish at various locations throughout the city and this was probably the second best seared tuna dish we've ever had (FYI - Catch 35 at 35 West Wacker is slightly better, but it's also nearly double the price).
Friday, November 6, 2009
The South Loop Elementary School Local School Council (LCS) in September proposed leasing the school's parking lot during Chicago Bears games to raise money for the lot's upkeep during winter months.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
The most interesting quote was in regards to people who bought before the auction was announced:
Thomas FitzGibbon, executive vice president at MB Financial Bank, said it was safe to assume the units offered Nov. 15 would be sold for less than what the developers originally hoped for.Although we've had people tell us these auctions had nothing to do with the Olympics not coming to Chicago, we still think this was a driving factor. If an auction was inevitable, they should have done it prior to the Olympic decision as demand/speculation probably would have been greater (in our opinion).
That could help push home values down, he said, tough for those who bought “at the top of the market in a development that has suffered in sales.”
“Does that mean you overpaid? I don’t know. You may have paid the right price when you bought it,” he said.
For some of the older posts we did on this subject here are a couple links:
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Instead of having the look of a typical charitable organization, the YWCA building was lavishly ornamented with brick and terra cotta and used to house working women newly arriving in the city, said Jim Peters, president of the nonprofit advocacy group Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois, which placed the structure on its endangered landmarks list last year.
Now, the building is dilapidated, abandoned for at least 20 years after having been a hotel since 1929, Peters said. Although saving the integrity of the entire building seems too costly at this point, Peters and others would like to save the facade, now hidden by scaffolding, to keep with many of the surrounding historic buildings. The strip of buildings is known to some as South Michigan's "Streetwall" and encompasses buildings on Michigan between 11th Street and Randolph Street.
Chicago Tribune outlines their issues in this article.
(Hat Tip: Nikki D!)
"It'll look like the lobby lounge of a boutique hotel," filled with comfy chairs and loveseats, with a view of the downtown skyline, he says. "It won't look like anything else I've ever done,"The other good news is that the name of the bar won't be StarBar (as previously thought).
For those of you not familiar with Kleiner he is the mind behind some eccentric Chicago and South Loop eateries like Opera, Gioco, Marche, Red Light, Carnivale.
Monday, November 2, 2009
See Wong, owner of the Wabash Development Group, has two properties that in or very close to the South Loop that sound like they're still moving forward. To be honest, we were under the impression his planned building at 1349 S. Wabash was off the table, but the article makes it sound like it is still moving forward (however no time frame was mentioned in the article).
The Grand Imperial Hotel at the corner of Clark and Archer (on the fringe of the South Loop depending on who you talk to) looks like a unique piece of architecture that could bring some interesting character to the neighborhood. We had a post on the development a couple of months ago which includes a video and interview of Wong. According to the Tribune article this is scheduled to break ground in 2010.
So why move forward with two new projects in the current environment? According to Wong it's because he caters to a different buyer and market:
While many builders have yielded to the recession, Wabash is thriving, says Wong, because the neighborhoods where he builds -- primarily Chinatown and Bridgeport -- serve an influx of immigrants. "There isn't an oversupply of housing here, especially of condos that cost less than $300,000," he reports.Although we're still skeptical about anything going up in the current environment, maybe Wong is right. We will continue to follow this and see if these developments actually happen.
Wabash developments that serve the Chinese-American market have units that are small by intention, says Wong. "In China, an 800-square-foot condo is a luxury condo," he explains. "So, here, this community wants small units." While his buyers do want nice finishes such as hardwood floors and granite countertops, he says, they are willing to forgo extras such as fireplaces, whirlpool tubs and balconies to minimize their home prices.
Friday, October 30, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
It's a valid point and an argument we brought up and debated with people a lot. We still think the infrastructure improvements would have improved the neighborhood which in turn would have encouraged more people to come to the neighborhood which in turn would help with retail and real estate.
A healthy, sustainable real estate market requires a balance between supply and demand. Supply includes commercial and residential units available for sale and rent, as well as funding required to buy or lease these properties. This supply would have undoubtedly increased markedly with the increase in demand prior to and during the events. Olympic-related jobs would have provided income for purchase and rent of these properties, and commercial enterprises would have set up shop to serve workers and visitors at a record pace. Following the closing ceremony, however, visitors return home, jobs end, and demand would have dropped off drastically.
This imbalance would have had a significant negative impact on existing property in and around the Olympic venues. Empty commercial space does not indicate a healthy neighborhood to potential buyers, and I wholeheartedly believe that prices of residential properties in both near south and South Loop neighborhoods would have taken a serious hit in pricing. As we have recently seen, high levels of inventory take years to absorb. Nothing good comes of an oversupply situation. Post-Olympic buyers would not have benefited either - there wouldn’t be enough of them to take advantage of the situation.
We still think the neighorhood will grow and flourish, but it will be slower since we did not get the Olympics in our opinion.
Hope we're wrong though.
Unless a miracle happens, the old YMCA Building at 830 S. Michigan Ave., one of the oldest buildings on the Michigan Avenue streewall (historic district), will likely be demolished in the near future.We are all for preservation of old, historic (and in this case beautiful) buildings, but it sounds and looks like this one is in bad shape. If there is funding to restore and/or preserve it great, but most importantly we would rather have a functional building that brings something useful to the neighborhood. We walk by the building all the time and although you can tell it was great when it was in use, in its current form it's an eye sore.
The owner this week applied for a demolition permit, after repeated citations by the city's Building Department. The parties were in court today at the Daley Center and the case has been continued to November 12. Alderban Fioretti's office was there, as were we and some neighbors.
In other demolition news, Kamin also reports that demolition of the first Gropius building on the old Michael Reese Hospital Campus has begun.
(image from chicagotribune.com)