Friday, July 31, 2009

Lollapalooza A Week Away

T-minus 7 days and counting until music fans invade Grant Park for a three day binge of music. Today, Greg Hinz from the Turn it Up blog, has a good read about the festival and how it's searching for it's identity within the city:
But questions remain about how fully Lollapalooza has embraced and been embraced by Chicago beyond the considerable revenue it brings to the local economy. In staging the biggest annual rock festival in the city’s history on Chicago’s showcase property, C3 is held to a particularly high standard. So far it has executed a hugely successful festival with few hitches. But the organization remains at arm’s length from the city’s music community – more of a formidable interloper than a trusted accomplice.
It's an interesting notion and probably true, but in our opinion that doesn't take away from the festival. We don't care who organizes it as long as we can enjoy a ton of world class music in the beauty of Grant Park.

Speaking of which, we've recently heard some good things from some co-workers about Airborne Toxic Event:

They plan on Sunday (8/9) at 2:30, should be solid.

More News About the Ickes Homes

Earlier in the week we read about the Ickes Homes and today the Skyline blog on had a piece about the demolition that begins on Monday. The tone of the story is similar as it talks about the 'glory' days at the buildings and talks about how things have changed.

Also of interest and given that there was a lot of discussion on Sloopin about whether or not gentrification happened in the neighborhood we thought people would be interested in this excerpt:

Ickes is near downtown, close to the lake and blocks away from McCormick Place and U.S. Cellular Field. The housing development also is accessible to public transportation and the Kennedy and Ryan Expressways -- all of which make it fertile ground for redevelopment. The signs of gentrification are obvious.

The Opera Lofts, just behind Ickes on South Dearborn Street, advertise the area as "on the southern edge of the South Loop at the gateway to historic Bronzeville." Developers of the lofts, which feature large balconies and Egyptian marble countertops, also note the proximity to the proposed multibillion-dollar 2016 Olympic Village that would serve as a permanent 37-acre residential community after the games, if Chicago is awarded the bid Oct. 2.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Entourage Coming to 1355 S. Michigan

What is Entourage, we don't know...but thanks to an anonymous reader they pointed us to Everyblock and this general limited business license for a business called Entourage.

What is Entourage? At this point we don't know so if you do please tell us.

Ideally Jeremy Piven would be opening up a comedy club and use the name of his hit show Entourage as the namesake, but that's probably not the case. Our guess is that it's a Hair Salon...or maybe it's a restaurant.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Chocolate Walking Tour Comes to the Sloop

If you're like us Chocolate anything tends to be a favorite and consistent food form that we consume. If you associate with this sentiment then you will love Chicago Chocolate Tours. It's a business that encourages you to:
Take a delightfully fun and informative guided walking and tasting tour of select chocolate shops. Savor the flavors and walk off the calories on the sweetest tour in town! Uplift through chocolate!
They have a variety of tours through the loop, gold coast and magnificent mile, but also have a new tour for the South Loop:
New ~ Wednesdays at 5:45 pm - Chocolate Shops of the South Loop: Canady le chocolatier, Panozzo's, Marble Slab Creamery, Little Branch Cafe, Three Peas Art Lounge, WineStyles (note: wine will be served at the final stop!). Meet outside of Canady le chocolatier, 824 S. Wabash Avenue. Walking level: Intermediate.
For more information check out their site.

Monday, July 27, 2009

6 Ickes' Buildings Begin Demolition Process this Month

The Chi-Town Daily News has a nice article about the history of the Harold Ickes' Homes. It also gets into the demolition:
This month, officials began preparations to tear down six of the original nine structures at the Ickes Homes, opened in the 1950s. They say the buildings are too old to save, and that the residents who stayed now occupy little more than a third of the two structures that will remain standing.
We drove by the Ickes' Homes today and the most Northern building (at the corner of State and Cermack) has already started the demolition process. It looks like the windows/boards on the top 3 or 4 floors have already been knocked out. We wonder what the city has planned for this space?

The article speculates about commercial property or even a venue for the 2016 Olympics:
In March, officials at the authority announced that they would demolish six of the Ickes buildings. The decision, backed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, has sparked speculation about whether the city will use the soon-vacant land for commercial development or a potential Olympic venue should Chicago win the 2016 bid.

(Image from Chi-Town Daily News)

NY Times Reports on Chicago's Olympic Bid & the Recession

The New York Times weighs in on Chicago's 2016 Olympic Bid and the problems it's encountering due to the current recession. Solid reporting but not a ton of new information. If you're an Olympic junkie (like me)...enjoy!

High-Speed Trains in the News Again

In theory we love the idea of high-speed trains. They seem to be a future forward idea that would benefit the region immensely. Today, 8 states and the city of Chicago signed an agreement committing to this idea.

High-speed trains sound very enticing, but this article in the Trib thinks it would be better to spend these billions of dollars on local projects like CTA and Metra repairs. In a perfect world we agree and would love to have billions spent. However, politicians probably like the fact that they're potentially improving the lives of people in 8 state across the Midwest.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Greg Hinz Weighs in on Olympic Ward Meetings

Greg Hinz, at Chicago Business, is one of the more opinionated voices in the Chicago media and generally speaking we usually like his take on topics. He weighed in on the Olympics and recently provided some good perspective:
That said, Mr. Daley and his Olympics dream are about to enter a critical phase. The City Council is set to vote late next month on whether to authorize that total guarantee after receiving an outside financial review by a firm hired by the Civic Federation.

The key question isn't whether operations of the Olympics have any real chance of losing a ton. The answer is, no. The games will sell tickets and TV rights, someone will pay them, and the thing quite probably will come in somewhere near budget.

The real question is about risk in building the things needed for the games, in particular the $300-million stadium and $1-billion housing village that will go where the former Michael Reese Hospital now stands.

Mixed Feelings in Our Gentrfication Poll

Thanks to everyone who weighed in on this issue. For more discussion, check out the post we did a couple of weeks ago. There are some great, thoughtful comments...

Tribune Article on Congress Hotel Strike

Not much new information in the article, but it's more or less a good update on the strike at the Congress Hotel. If you're not familiar with the strike, it's been going on for over 6 years and doesn't look to be ending anytime soon.

One interesting thing in the article was that it gave a sense of the owner of the hotel, Shlomo Nahmias. According to the article:
Those who have met Shlomo -- as he insists on being called -- recall him as a teddy bear of a man, friendly and playful in a gruff sort of way. He greets even new acquaintances with a slapping handshake and a hug. When the strikers were his employees, he'd greet them with the likes of "honey" or "dearie."

He's still a presence in their lives. Along with his wife and their dog, Nahmias lives in the hotel and takes a daily stroll down Michigan Avenue. That gives the strikers a flesh-and-blood target for the dogged determination they perhaps wouldn't have if they were fighting an impersonal corporation, invisible to them.

If You Missed Venetian Night...

We missed it too, but saw some of the floats thanks to this video by ABC7. Looks like a good time and it sounds like the highlight was the Michael Jackson Thriller boat. The Chicago 2016 boat (above) was also pretty great.

Also, there seems to be some concert/festival at Soka Gakkai (1455 S. Wabash) starting today. We tried to find info about this, but didn't have much luck. Our guess is that it's a 'peace' concert which is something they've been doing for awhile.

(image from ABC 7 Chicago)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Chicago Criterium Comes to South Loop this Weekend

Last year we were walking around and out of no where bikes were buzzing by us down Michigan avenue. Since we weren't expecting it needless to say we were surprised! If this sounds interesting, this Sunday is your chance to catch a glimpse of high speed cycling in our neighborhood:
The Chicago Criterium series of races will captivate spectators with its fast paced straight-aways and tight 90-degree turns in the heart of Grant Park. A criterium or "crit" is a cycling race held in a closed circuit loop and is approximately 1.1 miles in length. The high speed left turn action begins on Columbus Drive heading north to East Jackson Boulevard, south on Michigan Avenue, east on Balbo Avenue, then back to Columbus Drive.
The races begin at 7am and continue throughout the day. There is no price for admission. If you could care less about this, this also serves as a warning if you're riding you car. Avoid the Grant Park streets!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

More on 2nd Ward 2016 Olympic Meeting

Michan Maidenberg, from Chicago Journal, thankfully attended the 2nd ward 2016 Olympic meeting on Tuesday and from the sounds of it, the tone was mostly positive. Not surprisingly there were still skeptics. A good read if you're into the Olympics.

One quote that stood out to us and in our mind represents the overall excitement but also the nervousness about the Olympics was from Anita Weissman:

After the meeting, Anita Weissman, a Chicago 2016 volunteer and someone interested in working professionally on a 2016 Games here was of two minds on the Olympics.

A native of the city, she thinks Chicago’s ethnic diversity and history could make an Olympics here like no other. But she paused before giving her full-throated support to the project.

“I think it’s an incredible opportunity. I think if it’s well done it will catapult the city to the next level,” she said. “I have to guess if it’s done badly, it will saddle us with 30 years of bad debt.”
We agree...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Daley Sounds Off On Olympic Naysayers

So last night was the 2nd ward 2016 Olympic meeting and unfortunately we couldn't make it. Did anyone have a chance to go? If so, we would love to hear your thoughts. We will also keep our eyes posted for other coverage of the 2nd ward meeting.

Regardless, there have been a couple articles we've recently read specifically talking about other ward meetings. Here is a lengthy recap from the Chicago Examiner and here is another one from the Chicago Tribune about the Lakeview 'ward' meeting.

Finally, we read another story about Mayor Daley blasting some of the Olympic naysayers:
“You’re against it. You were against Millennium Park. You were against 911. You were against Soldiers Field. You were against Meigs Field. What else were you against? You’re against a lot. But, that’s freedom of speech,” Daley said.

“Some people don’t want this. … That’s part of American democracy. They can stand up and say anything they want. … But, in the next five years, six years, tell me one [other] thing that can bring jobs and economic opportunities and, besides that, guarantee an investment by the federal government [of] billions of dollars in infrastructure. If you have something better, I’d love to see it.”

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Lolla and Chicago 2016 in Bed Together

Two topics we love following have converged today. The Chicago 2016 Olympic bid will be the 'sponsor' of the main stage at Lollapalooza this year. This right is usually reserved for corporate entities that shell out big bucks to have their name plastered all over the stage. However this year, one of the sponsors, AT&T, backed out leaving a gaping hole in terms of sponsorship for Lollapalooza. As a result, Chicago 2016 will be the de facto sponsor for free.

From what we've read, it sounds like it's an innocent gesture by C3 (the company who puts on Lolla every year). However, we're going to put our cynical glasses on and read between the lines. In our mind this seems to be a classic case of you scratch our back, we'll scratch yours.

Chicago 2016 will get a ton of exposure with hundreds of thousands of 20 and 30 somethings and if Chicago wins the Olympic Bid, it's pretty clear that C3 will probably be responsible for putting on many of the events (ie- security and logistic support).

To be honest, we're fine with this. C3 has been doing a great job with Lolla and for the most part it runs very smoothly. They also were responsible for Obama's election night party/speech in Grant Park and from what we can tell (and we're not experts, just observant participants usually), they really do a good job.

Anyway, all we wanted to say was that this is a nice gesture by C3, but they stand to benefit immensely if Chicago wins the 2016 Olympic bid.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Lolla Low Down: Beastie Boys Out

Read some unfortunate news today that Adam “MCAYauch, from the Beastie Boys, has been diagnosed with cancer. Understandably, the band has cancelled all shows for the year including their headlining gig on Saturday August 8th at Lollapalooza. We were pumped for the show, but wish Yauch all the best!

Upon reading this on Greg Kot's blog, people immediately wanted to know who the promoters at Lolla would tap to replace the Beasties. As of now, nothing has been announced, but in the comments section their were a wide range of acts being mentioned: Beck, Kanye West, Jay-Z, The Flaming Lips, Jesus Lizard and Nas were a few that caught our attention. Someone even mentioned Prince. However, our personal favorite was someone mentioning an Outkast reunion (it was actually Kot who mentioned it). We doubt this is happening but man would that be awesome:

highly unlikely, but we can dream...

Shots Around the Sloop

(Hat Tip: JMJ!)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Random Observations at the 1300 Block on Wabash

Upon recently walking down Wabash we noticed two things. First, Exposure Tapas is no longer! It's now called Utopia and it's focus is now 'International Caribbean Cuisine'. Interesting...

Second, the concrete sidewalk barriers for the failed Glashaus development (1327 S. Wabash) have finally been moved! Thankfully this eye sore is if they could only do something with the 10 foot deep holes in the ground.

History at the Movies in Grant Park this Tuesday 7/21

It's the start of the weekend, but we're already looking forward to Tuesday July 21st:

We heard about this Guinness Book of World Record attempt on the radio and also in the comment section of
The City of Chicago’s Outdoor Film Festival (COFF), in partnership with the Goodman Theatre, invites you to break a Guinness Book World Record. Be part of the largest group of people wearing a Groucho nose and glasses at Tuesday’s (7-21-09) presentation of the American classic movie Duck Soup in Grant Park. The record to break “of the most people wearing Groucho Marx glasses” is 4,077. The record was set during a fundraiser in Springfield, Missouri, on July 9, 2007. Be ready to don the Groucho Marx look for 10 consecutive minutes at 8:00pm This event, including the Groucho nose and glasses, is FREE and open to the public.
Also on Tuesday, is the 2nd wards chance to hear the Chicago 2016 bid team president, Lori Healy, state the case for the Olympics and answer questions. The event will be at the UIC forum (725 W. Roosevelt Road) from 6-8pm this Tuesday, July 21st. We would love to go, but it's not looking likely. If anyone goes, please let us know what they say.

Finally, we just wanted to point out that the 2nd annual Blackhawk Convention is being held at the Hilton in the Sloop (720 S. Michigan) this weekend (7/17-7/19). It's unfortunately sold out, but if you're a big enough fan, we imagine you can sneak in somehow.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

More Burnham Memorial Coverage

We've been following the competition and plans to build a memorial for Daniel Burnham on the Museum campus, so with that in mind we wanted to bring to your attention a post from Blair Kamin of the Chicago Tribune Cityscapes Blog.

Kamin thinks that the winning project would be an improvement for the Museum Campus, but an unnecessary use of resources that could be better used elsewhere:

There is much to like in the winning design, by Chicago architect David Woodhouse, especially how it would direct our attention outward to Burnham's real memorial -- the stunning cityscape of downtown Chicago.

Yet there is also much to question, particularly why equally fitting but much-needier lakefront sites, such as the derelict public space to the east of Lake Shore Drive near Buckingham Fountain, were passed over in favor of the already-sylvan Museum Campus.

We completely agree. In our opinion the Queen's Landing project would be a much better use of these funds. Below is a photo from his post showing a familiar scene at Buckingham fountain (west of lakeshore drive). It's a mess and could become much more pedestrian friendly if resources were devoted to it.
And here is a drawing of the potential idea for a renovation of Queens Landing:
This would be much more beneficial for the city and a great tribute to the man who is partially responsible for what it is today!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Indian Cuisine Comes to the Sloop

So none of these restaurants are brand spanking new, but within the past year some new Indian restaurants have opened in our neighborhood. The Chicago Sun-Times talks about some of these spots:

India Grill (1112 S. Wabash)
The vibe: Elegant with gold-rimmed columns and chandeliers, but not fussy
What you'll pay: Entrees $7.99-$19.99
Ways to save: $11.99 lunch buffet; student carry-out deal for $5.99
Signature items: Tandoori mixed grill, spicy vindaloo dishes, mango lassi
Coolest feature: BYOB (there's a Sam’s Wines & Spirits across Wabash)
Chicago Curry House (899 S. Plymouth Ct.)
The vibe: Classy, white-tablecloth interior with fabric booths, carved wood chairs
What you'll pay: Entrees $9.95-$21.95
Ways to save: $10.95 lunch buffet. Student specials change monthly.
Signature items: Chicken MoMo (Nepali-style dumpling), clay oven-roasted chicken and Lamb Choela
Coolest feature: Nepalese cuisine and full bar with Indian beer and wine
Chutney Joe's (511 S. State).
The vibe: Casual, soft-loft feel with spice-colored walls
What you'll pay: $5.99 for bowls, salads and wraps, $7.99 "Create a Meal" options
Ways to save: Students with ID save 10 percent after 2 p.m. Weekly specials every Monday
Signature items: Lamb Rogan Josh, spinach paneer, baked (not fried) samosas
Coolest feature: You can see and sample dishes before ordering

Independant British Firm Hired to Review Chicago 2016 Costs

British firm L.E.K. has been hired by:
the Civic Federation, a local tax policy watchdog group in Chicago, at the request of City Council.

Federation President Laurence Msail said, "the firm will help us conduct an independent review of expenditures and revenues". He said he believes the firm has been involved in helping other cities prepare Olympic bids, but stressed that it played no role in Chicago's bid.

Chicago City Council recently passed a resolution asked for an independent study after Mayor Richard M. Daley reversed course and reportedly agreed to sign a contract bearing full financial responsibility should Chicago host the 2016 Games.

Hopefully this will help shed some light on the controversy around the Olympic costs...

Newest Trend in South Loop Development: Student Housing

So we all know about the current situation of unsold condos in the South Loop and today we read another article about a developer that has changed course and decided to jump on the bandwagon of student housing. This student housing tower would be at 1136-40 S. Wabash Ave.

Here are some other posts we've done on potential student housing buildings:
Finally here is another old Sloopin post to a story in the Chicago Tribune about "Loop U" which talks about the emergence of the area as a higher education area.

(Hat Tip: Nikki D!)

Michael Jordan Gatorade Commercial in the Sloop

Yesterday we posted about a shoot going on at the basketball courts at 18th and State. Thanks to James C we now know it was a Gatorade Commercial for a special release of limited edition Jordan drinks.

Today he also posted this link to the Red Eye blog which had some awesome pictures of the shoot:

Scottie Pippen and Jackie Joyner-Kersee were also there to take it in:
Pretty amazing stuff!

(Hat Tip to James C and RL!)
(Images from Red Eye @ Chicago Now)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sushi and Dancing...Sloopin Style

We recently ventured out to enjoy some of the pleasantly cool weather we've had in the area, got on our bikes and headed north on Michigan Ave.

We've repetitively been by this little sushi spot at the corner of Michigan and Van Burren, but never went. So tonight was the night and we decided to get some sushi from Osaka Sushi Express (400 S. Michigan).

If you've never seen the place, there is probably a's easily missed. It's a tiny corner shop and doesn't really stand out. Regardless, it's a pretty solid place. It's not very trendy and it's not very expensive, it simply is a good sushi place if you don't want put on your fancy jeans and shell out $8 for a simple California roll.

The inside is pretty simple, but nice and what we're calling 'Japanese Chic'. We got our food close to closing time so it wasn't very busy. You can custom order your rolls/sushi or simply go to the fridge to pick up some of the more popular rolls and appetizers if you're in a rush.

We opted for some basic rolls, spicy tuna, eel and California rolls with a helping of edamame. We got it to go and head back south down Michigan.

Another thing we've noticed, but never attended was the huge dance party that happens every week during the summer at the corner of Harrison and Michigan Ave (610 S. Michigan). This concept has always intrigued us and since we were trying to enjoy the weather, we took our sushi, grabbed a table, ate, listened to live Eastern European music and took in the scene.

For those who don't know about the dancing it is called Chicago Summer Dance and is:
an eleven-week festival featuring one-hour dance lessons by professional instructors, followed by two hours of live music and dancing on a 4,600 square foot open-air dance floor in the Spirit of Music Garden in Grant Park, 601 S. Michigan Ave. SummerDance events occur every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening, 6 to 9:30 pm, and Sunday afternoon, 4 to 7 pm, weather-permitting.
The park this is held in is truly beautiful and even if you're not in the mood for dancing it sure makes a good place for people watching. It tends to draw a very unique and diverse crowd that all seem to be enjoying themselves.

All in all it was a fun weeknight in the Sloop. The sushi was solid and well worth the price and the dancing/music was highly entertaining!

Shots Around the Sloop: A Movie Being Filmed?

Thanks to RL for sending us this picture. It looks like they're filming something at the basketball court at 18th and State:
It seems like there's a movie/commercial filming today around the basketball court on 18th and State. There's a couple of PA's (Production Assistants) running around and cops securing the place. Let me know if you figure out what it is. The only film I know that's in production right now is "Nightmare on Elm Street", but I don't know if this is it. On the pic you can see the trailers, director chairs under the blue tents, and PAs in their usual bright GAP type clothing.
We don't know much about this, but does anyone else?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Chicago Journal's Coyote Story - Part Deux

Just read the second installment of Dan Kelly's, The Great Coyote Hunt, in the Chicago Journal and it doesn't seem to have much to do with Coyotes. Regardless, the writing is good and it's entertaining. For those who don't know what area in the sloop he's referring to, it's the red area in the map below.
For the first installment click here.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Burnham Memorial Winner Announced

Last week the AIA Chicago Foundation announced that Chicago-based firm David Woodhouse Architects won the contest to design the memorial for legendary Chicago planner David Burnham.

We've been following this story and it isn't a done deal quite yet. Regardless, the winning design doesn't seem to be too intrusive to us. The tiered lawn that currently is at the north side of the Field Museum will become a slight sloped hill instead. Personally we're a little upset about this component of the design as it's a great place to watch fireworks and just hang out.

For the designs of the three finalists click here. Personally the third place design from Sasaki Associates, Inc. was our favorite.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Double Dose of Guerrilla Gay Bar Tonight

We've posted about Guerrilla Gay Bar before (but if you need more background click here) and tonight it looks like they're doubling the fun by hitting up two South Loop bars tonight starting at 9pm:'s time for Guerrilla Gay Bar South Loop edition! Due to the response that GGB has received over the past few months, for the first time ever GGB will encompass two bars. Blackies - 755 S Clark St and South Loop Club - 1 E Balbo Ave are only a block apart so if you're having fun at one club you can head on over the other and have even more fun. GGB starts around 9PM. Check the Facebook page for full details.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

More Problems for Chicago 2016: This Time Because of USOC

Tribune today recaps another set back for Chicago's 2016 team. This time it's because of a TV contract that was negotiated by the USOC (United States Olympic Committee) against the will of the IOC (International Olympic Committee):
The IOC is upset that the USOC, which would reap huge financial benefits from a Chicago Summer Games, went ahead Wednesday with an announcement about its Olympic television network launch with Comcast, despite the IOC's advice to wait until contractual issues were resolved.

The dispute boils down to what impact the U.S. Olympic Network will have on IOC cash cow NBC, the network of the Olympics in the United States through 2012, and to a long-standing question about marketing rights and use of Olympic marks that 1978 federal legislation granted the USOC.
Like we've been saying...this is a game of politics and big money. Who knows if this will sink Chicago's ship, if nothing else it's at least a small leak in the boat.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


If you're like us, you enjoy sipping on a tasty craft beer (even if you really don't know the difference between a Pale Lager and a Imperial Stout).

With that in mind, we wanted to bring your attention to a little event called AleFest Chicago. It will be happening this Saturday (July 11th) at Solider Field in the 'Stadium Green' from 2-6pm. Admission is $40 and includes 20 samples of craft beer, commemorative tasting glass, and tasting guide.

See you there!

Gold Line Coming Through the Sloop?

The Tribune has an interesting read today about a community group called SOUL (Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation) who is pushing for a new CTA 'Gold Line' which would serve the South Side (mainly along the lakefront).

From what we can tell it's essentially proposing that the CTA run a line on existing Metra tracks. It's something similar to what we've posted about before (here and our own unfounded iteration here), but this is the first time a major Chicago news organization has picked it up (from what we can tell). Although it would be great to provide El transportation on the South Lakefront, our guess is that it won't happen.

Regardless it's still an interesting concept.

(Image from

Sunday, July 5, 2009

What is Gentrification and Did it Happen in the South Loop?

We recently had an email interview with the Chicago Journal in which we were asked a variety of questions. One of the questions we were asked was what do you see as the main issues that exist in the neighborhood? Our response:
Parking, Gentrification and Real Estate seem to be the main issues we hear about and read about.
Then we were called out by some readers of the interview in the comments section about our explanation of gentrification:
Gentrification is always a touchy subject. The South Loop has changed so much in the past 10-15 years with the real estate boom that many businesses and residents simply can’t afford to live in the area anymore. This seems to be a trend that will continue as it seems as if the city is committed to making the neighborhood increasingly desirable.
The people in the comments section had a gripe with our statement about gentrification. To be fair, it's a good point to clarify because we might have been overzealous with our statement that "many" businesses and residents simply can't afford to live and operate in the area anymore. However, we still contend that gentrification has happened and will continue to happen in the South Loop.

But let's take a step back...what is gentrification? According to the Merriam Webster Online Dictionary, gentrification is:

the process of renewal and rebuilding accompanying the influx of middle-class or affluent people into deteriorating areas that often displaces poorer residents

To us (and people we've spoken with), this sounds very similar to what has happened and is happening in the Sloop. The first part of the definition is an absolute slam dunk, however the second part, "often displaces poorer residents" is a point of contention that can be debated.

The South Loop was a very desolate neighborhood in the past, so some people contend that gentrification didn't happen in the South Loop because people and businesses weren't displaced. They simply say that vacant property and buildings were taken over, converted and developed. This might be predominately true, but we still believe some people and businesses have been or will be displaced. Although we can't site hundreds of examples (and to be honest it's a good thing that the scale of displacement is relatively small) there are some recent things like the Harold Icke Homes potentially being demolished that wreak of displacement due to gentrification.

So with that said, please let us know your thoughts on this subject. Are we completely off base with our assessment of gentrification in the South Loop? Or do you think gentrification has happened in the Sloop, but maybe not in the 'typical' gentrification model? Or maybe you know of specific instances of people and/or businesses that have been displaced...

We're curious to hear your thoughts and thanks to 'Old Timer' for engaging with us (in a respectful manner) on the topic!

(South Loop Rising Image from Chicago Magazine)

Poll: Burnham Memorial Shouldn't Be in Front of the Field

Not a scientific poll, but we agree and will do our best to keep our eye out for more information in regards to the plans for the Burnham Memorial. For those of you who aren't familiar with this, check out some older posts we've done on the topic.

Free Concert July 7th in Women's Park (1827 S. Indiana)

The Prairie District Neighborhood Alliance recently sent us some information on an upcoming event:
The Prairie District Neighborhood Alliance Invites you to a Free Concert

Lakeside Bank's July 7th "Concert in The Park"
Pre-Concert activities begin at 6:30 PM - Concert begins at 7:00PM
Women's Park & Gardens/Clarke House - 1827 S. Indiana Ave
Presented by Lakeside Bank
Featuring VanderCook College of Music

Event Partners
City of Chicago Cultural Affairs
Little Gym South Loop
Praire District Neighborhood Alliance
The Near South Planning Board

Come early and enjoy fabulous outdoor grilling with pre-concert food and music at Cafe Society next door - 1801 S. Indiana. BYO.

All are invited. Pre-concert activities for adults and children including Family Drum Circle, and tumbling fun presented by Little Gym South Loop.
For more information check out the Prairie District Neighborhood Alliance website.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Yolk = Yum, but Busy

If you're ever out and about between breakfast and lunch strolling around Michigan and Roosevelt, you've probably noticed a massive amount of people just waiting outside. What are they waiting for? One of the most popular Brunch spots in the Sloop, Yolk (1120 S. Michigan).

To be honest, Breakfast/brunch isn't my favorite meal, so that's why it's taken me sooooo long to hit this spot. However, when this many people will wait an hour for food you know it must be relatively good. So with that said, last weekend we headed to Yolk for brunch.

One of us went over a little early to put in our name and they said the wait was going to be 45 minutes. We didn't have anything going on, so we had no problem waiting. We joined the other patrons outside (if I had to guess I would say there was at least 40-50 people outside waiting) and simply enjoyed the great weather.

Our name was finally called and since it was just two of us they put us at the bar. Quickly we got some drinks and soon there after put our order in. I went for the Southwestern Crepe and my buddy went for the healthiest option on the menu (sarcasm!), "The Good Morning Burger", which consisted of an 8oz hamburger topped with American cheese, bacon and an over-easy egg. To elaborate on the menu, it's massive and has a much bigger selection then I anticipated. So if you're like me and don't like this breakfast (I know to some people this is blasphemy), they have a ton of options so you will definitely be able to find something of interest.

The food was prompt and portions were pretty big. I don't often get crepes, but mine was excellent! "The Good Morning Burger" also was devoured, so I can only assume that my buddy enjoyed it.

Overall, it was a nice and energetic atmosphere. The food was great and the service was solid (nothing special, but definitely no complaints). The only thing to mention is that there always seems to be a wait. So if you're in the need of a quick bite this might not be the best spot. But if you want a good and decently priced meal...then Yolk is highly recommended.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Interesting Reads for the Holiday Weekend

There were two interesting articles we recently read and wanted to call them out:

Some Hoping South Loop Becomes an Art Gallery District
The Tribune talks about some of the Art Galleries that already exist in the Sloop, but also how some hope that this dynamic might change in the future. They also have a small article about older initiatives to make the area more appealing to artists, however those plans unfortunately failed.

Coyotes and the Mysterious Rezko Land
The Chicago Journal has a two piece article about coyotes and how the are strolling around the Sloop. Although it's a decent read, we were more interested about the background of the mysterious 62 acre piece of land that is just southwest of the corner of Clark and Roosevelt. The second piece of the article will be published next Wednesday.

Hope everyone has a great long weekend!

Education Expansion Update

Today the Chicago Gazette had an article about Jone College Prep's plans to expand. This isn't a new story, but it's important one for the neighborhood:
Jones, at 606 S. State St., will build new space immediately south of its existing building that will allow it to increase selective enrollment from 750 to 900. When combined with its 300 neighborhood students, enrollment will total 1,200.
The big issue that still needs to be contemplated and discussed is how neighborhood kids fit into the mix at the school. Although definitive answers haven't come yet, it's an important issue for neighborhood families and residents to keep their eye on. It's an interesting read for those who are interested in schooling for neighborhood kids.

The article also goes on to mention plans by Roosevelt University as they want: build a 32-story structure at 421–425 S. Wabash Ave. to contain space for student services, recreation, classrooms, science laboratories, the university’s business college, and student housing.

Roosevelt administrators feel the university needs a new facility to accommodate rising student interest, as fall 2008 enrollment was the second highest in university history and included a 70% increase in the number of entering freshmen and a 29% increase in the number of residential students.

We love that education continues to be a priority and growth area for the neighborhood. Alderman Fioretti sums it up well:
“Roosevelt has been a good corporate citizen and has given back generously to the South Loop and Chicago in general,” Fioretti said. Fioretti noted the South Loop’s student population has grown from 52,330 in 2005 to 65,024 in 2009. “Students spend money locally,” he explained. “They keep the entire downtown area, from Roosevelt Road and Michigan Avenue to the river, vibrant and invigorated.”
(Image for Chicago Gazette)

Progress on the New Fieldhouse at 18th and Indiana

The old Vietnam Veterans Museum building is going through some renovations. As mentioned on various sites and here before, the city has taken over the building. With that comes some changes. The goal is to make the building a fieldhouse that caters to the neighborhood better:
The project will occur in phases, beginning with reconstructing the first floor; that piece should wrap up this January. Workers already have started creating the first floor’s indoor playground, which was designed for toddlers and youngsters up through age five. The first floor also will house two clubrooms for use by the community and by teens and preteens in CPD programs, said Kocinski.
Although it was nice to have the veterans museum, we think that it will be better for the community to use the building for a variety of ways (the museum will still be on the third floor, it just won't have as much space). We will try to follow this story as it progresses.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Kleiner to Open Bar in Roosevelt Collection Movie Theater

In case you missed it, Chicago Business had a great article yesterday about Jerry Kleiner and his plans to open up a bar in the 16 screen Kerasotes movie theater that's going in at Roosevelt Collection. If you're not familiar with Kleiner, we had a small old post about him on Sloopin. He's essentially the guy behind some of the city's more ecclectic looking restaurants (Gioco, Opera, Carnivale, Marche, Red Light, Room 21/Via Ventuno).

By joining with Kleiner, the Kerasotes company definitely will be looking to provide a cool and unique experience:

“We really set out to create a more stylish design, and something with a lot of pizzazz and energy and edginess,” says Mr. Kerasotes, adding that he hopes StarBar will even attract non-moviegoers. “Jerry has the ability to mix a showman’s sense of style and design to his restaurants, and at the same time provide a high-quality menu.”

The roughly 4,700-square-foot mezzanine level bar will have room for about 160 patrons. The mezzanine level also will provide access to premium seating areas in two theaters, where there will be 150 reserved seats in an upper level of the two theaters featuring plush seating and table service.

In our opinion this is pretty interesting and great news for Roosevelt Collection. Although the food at some of Kleiner's restaurants might not be the best, the decorations and ambiance are really second to none. We can only imagine that this bar will be created in a similar fashion (however, we're not crazy about the name StarBar for personal reasons).

The movie theaters and bar will open in November or December of this year.

Speaking of Kleiner we recently had a reader email us about one of his other restaurants in the South Loop, Via Ventuno:

Just wanted to give you a heads up on Room 21/Via Ventuno and maybe see if you've heard anything different. I've had suspicions that Room 21/Via Ventuno hasn't been doing as hot as they'd like to be doing but I don't know what to make of this.
I had a reservation made through for dinner last night at Via Ventuno. When I got to the door and tried to get in, I found out that the place was locked up. Lights were on but no one was there, tables weren't set, etc. I thought this was odd as I had made a reservation so I called the number on the window to see if I could get some clarity on the situation. According to the voicemail message, Via Ventuno is now an event-only space. Apparently, they've had "high demand" for the space for events so they've decided to stop their business as a restaurant open to the general public. I don't really see this as a move that allows Kleiner to generate more revenue, but I guess this does help him stop the bleeding from not being able to fill the place on a nightly basis. The bad news is that it appears a good dining option in the South Loop has gone bust.
We searched around on the internets and put a call into the restaurant but unfortunately couldn't get much info (like the emailer says it's being primarily used for 'private parties'). Does anyone know anything about the happenings at Via Ventuno?

(Hat Tip: Nikki D, JC, RMT, AM)

Fioretti & Other Aldermen Trying to Cap Olympic Liability

The Tribune is reporting that our very own 2nd ward Alderman, Robert Fioretti, is one of 12 Adermen co-sponsoring an ordinance trying to cap the city's liability for the 2016 Olympics:
Earlier this week, Ald. Manuel Flores (1st) introduced an ordinance to cap the city's liability for 2016 Olympics losses at $500 million.

It was a response to Daley's meeting with IOC officials in Switzerland on June 17. Afterward, he told the Tribune he would sign a host city contract putting the burden for all losses on Chicago. The comments led to a firestorm of criticism back home and damage control efforts by City Hall and the city's Olympics bid leaders.

So far, however, just 11 other aldermen in the 50-member council have signed on as co-sponsors.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

General Logan in Grant Park

If you're like us you love wandering around Grant Park. It's a great park that seems to become more interesting and beautiful each day (the weather might be helping with that as well). If you've walked, rode, drove or ran down Michigan Avenue by 9th street you've probably seen an interesting and quite striking memorial to General John Logan. The super talented peeps at The Windy Pixel took the amazing picture above and provide some interesting background on the statue:
A scene from Grant Park. This statue of General John Logan sits near Michigan & 9th. The statue serves to commemorate the Union Civil War General and Illinois Senator who is responsible for instituting Memorial Day (originally called Decoration Day) in 1868. The Logan Square neighborhood in Chicago was also named after the General. The statue in Grant Park was designed by August Saint-Gaudens with the assistance of Alexander Phimster Proctor, and unveiled in 1897.
(The Great Image is from The Windy Pixel)