Monday, August 31, 2009

Ickes Buildings Start to Come Down

We recently drove down Cermack past the Harold Ickes buildings and the wrecking ball is in full force. The building at the corner of Cermack and State looks to be the first one coming down as about a quarter of the building has been knocked down as of yesterday.

And in case you didn't hear, two weeks ago a man working on the demolition crew at the site died after falling from the seventh story.

(image from ABC 7 news)

No Games Chicago has "No Confidence in Civic Federation Report"

Last week we posted about the good news that the Chicago 2016 team got from the audit done by the Civic Federation and today we're going to point you in the direction of No Games Chicago who have issues with the 'independent' claim of the review:
No Games Chicago today issued its own review of the Civic Federation’s review of the 2016 Committee’s finances. “What we’ve got here is the sheep paying the foxes to audit the wolves” said No Games organizer Tom Tresser. “There are so many conflicts of interest in the inception, staffing and execution of this report as to make it virtually toothless.” Nevertheless, despite the many flaws in the reporting process, the document still reveals many new reasons for Chicagoans to be concerned about the 2016 bid process and its authors.
We just wanted to show you some of the places to look if you're questioning the legitimacy of the report.

It's Just a Matter of Time....Before We Get a Chipotle

and most of you think it will be at Roosevelt Collection:

A Look at How the CTA Compares to Other World Class Transit

The Urbanophile, which is a great blog that looks at a variety of urban issues throughout the Midwest, has an interesting post that looks at some of Chicago's transit projects and compares them to some of the best in class around the globe.

Although the entire post is a good read, a specific section stuck out in our mind because it's something that has always perplexed us. The Metra entrance at the corner of Van Burren and Michigan looks like it's straight up out of an amusement park. It's on the boundary of the sloop and every time we go by it we stop a scratch our heads. It doesn't fit in with the setting and it's always been a mystery as to why this stop is different then all the other ones.

Anyway, thanks to this post, we have a little more background as to why this stop is the way it is:
Looking elsewhere, of course, the place to look for iconic subway entrances is Paris with its Hector Guimard designed metro entrances. They define the word classic in this space:
These work in Paris not just because they are excellent designs but because, in a very real way, the embody the essence of Paris. They capture its romance and history. To walk past one of these is to be transported back to the Belle Epoque. Sundered from its native setting, these could easily end up looking cheesy.

I really hate to admit this, but Chicago actually has a clone of this on its Metra system. Here's the entrance to an underpass at Van Buren St. Station:
Paris gives out replicas of these to cities around the world, and I believe this was one such gift. Even so, this is the sort of thing that would, if done in say Cleveland, make a Chicagoan snicker.
So the mystery is solved! This out of place Metra stop was actually a replica gift given from Paris to Chicago.

Quick Update on Printer's Row Park

According to Ald. Fioretti's recent email newsletter:

I am happy to provide this update on the Printer's Row Park. The water retention system is near complete and this green space is progressing on schedule.

Look for the groundbreaking ceremony to take place in late October!
Good news!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Mia Francesca to Open in the South Loop?

Although the article really isn't about the South Loop, Scott Harrison, who is chef/partner at Mia Francescas, mentions that the greater Chicagoland area is already saturated with their restaurant:
“We’re pretty much tapped out in Chicago,” chef/partner Scott Harrison says. “Maybe [we'll open in] the South Loop, maybe a small one in River North…besides that, we’ve covered the 100-mile radius.”
We would love one of these restaurants to open in the South Loop...always a fan of solid Italian.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Going Once, Going Twice....Sold for $40 Million

The old Chicago Post Office sold today for $40 Million which was much much more then the suggested opening bid of $300,000. As of now, no word on who the buyer is or what they plan on doing with the building. We will post something if we read anything, we're sure there will be some coverage on this one.

(Tribune photo by Antonio Perez / July 8, 2009)

Auditor Says Chicago 2016 Plan Solid and Reasonable

About a month ago Mayor Daley said that Chicago would sign the IOC host city contract if Chicago wins the right to host the 2016 Olympics (something he previously said he would not sign). This contract makes the host city completely liable for any cost overruns associated with the Olympics and many residents and in turn aldermen were rightfully upset with this new development. As a result the City Council requested that the 2016 plan be audited by an independent group called the Civic Federation. The purpose of this audit was to see if the bid team came up with an accurate and feasible plan

Well the audit is done and the group said:
...if Chicago 2016 sticks to its plan to buy additional insurance, the extra coverage would create "an effective safety net" to protect taxpayers in the event of problems such as cancellation of the Games, natural disasters or "loss of development financing."
This is a big win for the bid team as it's hard to imagine any alderman fighting the Olympic bid now. However, there are still some issue that the auditors warned about such as oversight from the aldermen:
The report also said it was critical for the City Council to use its oversight powers to monitor the city's Olympic plans. But that appears to miss the political reality of City Hall, where aldermen routinely have followed Daley's lead and rarely challenge his major plans.
And probably the riskiest component in our opinion is the plan for the Olympic Village since there continues to be a lot of volatility within the current real estate market:
Among the greatest risks in the Olympic plan is the impact that a changing real estate market could have on the financing of the billion dollar Olympic Village, according to the report. To address that risk, the Olympic committee's plan calls for multiple developers to spread the financial burden in addition to the proposed insurance policies.

Breakfast + Tiffany's + Audrey = Entertaining

If you like the three things above, then chance are you will like the Prairie District Neighborhood Alliance's pick for their 'meet me at the movies' series. This Friday (8/28), they will be screening the classic Breakfast at Tiffany's staring the adorable, young Audrey Hepburn. Tickets are $5 and the showing will be at the Sherwood Music School (1312 S. Michigan Avenue). Click here to RSVP.

Afterwards they will be hosting a wrap party just around the corner at Opera (1301 S. Wabash). Dinner is $15 and includes:
Passed appetisers and buffet style entres: 5 spiced ribs, Assortment of Satays (kung poa beef, Classic chicken Sayay, Golden shrimp) Shrimp Gyoza (Pot sticker) Singapore Noodles,Duch Chow Fun and Pork Fried Rice and non-alcoholic drinks included. Full bar available.
If you're not familiar with the movie here is the classic trailer:

Smiling Bright is for Teeth Cleaning....Duhhhhhh

To follow-up on a post earlier in the week, we spoke to the launder next door and Smiling Bright is not a dental office but simply a Teeth Cleaning joint. So for coffee lovers and smokers...this one is for you!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Old Post Office to be Auctioned Off Tomorrow

As we posted a couple of months ago, the Old Chicago Post Office that spans the Congress Parkway at the Northwest Corner of the Sloop is set to be auctioned off tomorrow.

Should be interesting to see who has the patience to take on this massive building and project.

Smiling Bright Coming to 1247 South Wabash

It looks like Smiling Bright is coming to 1247 S. Wabash. What is Smiling Bright? Well we don't exactly know, but our guess is a dental office (however we hope it's something different). Anyone know anything about this place?

This is where the old boutique Laughing Iguana used to be until it closed last year.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Another Commercial Filmed in the Sloop

We recently posted about an MJ nike commercial in the Sloop and yesterday we ran into another commercial, this time for Budweiser. It's pretty creative and we counted 5 different locales in the South Loop. Can you figure them out? We will post our findings soon:

We found five places in the sloop:
  • :32 - "sail the ship" - 900 S. Wabash block - Green/Orange line
  • :33 - drum players - 1020 S. Wabash - Green/Orange line
  • :38 - "skip the rope" - 800 S. Wabash block - Green/Orange line
  • :39 - drum players on Orange line south of Roosevelt stop
  • :50 - "all together" - 1300 S. Wabash block - Green/Orange line
And thanks to Anthony for finding this one:
  • :25 - "E, F, G, H, eye" - Cullerton and Wabash - Green/Orange line

Monday, August 24, 2009

Shots Around the Sloop

Grant Park @ 8th and Michigan

Downtown Rental Market Looking Good

A recent article in the Chicago Real Estate Daily talks about the surprisingly strong numbers for downtown rental properties. Although the article is about the greater Chicago Downtown market, it does call out two South Loop rental properties:
“People are worried about their jobs,” says Greg Mutz, CEO of Amli Residential Partners LLC, a Chicago-based apartment owner. “When you’re in that kind of mind-set, you don’t want to be illiquid, and you want to have flexibility.”

The apartment market is “not as bad as I thought it would be,” he says.

Amli completed construction last year on a 440-unit building at 900 S. Clark St. While the high-rise is more than 80% leased, it faces competition from other new buildings in the South Loop, where developers have been especially busy.

Compounding the supply problem, Chicago-based developer Centrum Properties Inc. recently decided to convert a new 342-unit condo project at Roosevelt Road and Clark Street into apartments.

Chicago and the Sloop Circa 1948

A great YouTube video from 1948: "James A. Fitzpatrick's Traveltalks: Chicago the Beautiful".

Maybe you will recognize:
The Stevens Hotel (now the Hilton), the largest in the world, containing three thousand hotel rooms
Or maybe:
Among the other architectural masterpieces of the city are the Shedd Aquarium, the Chicago Museum of Natural History, formerly known as the Field Museum, and Soldier Field stadium built in the classic tradition of ancient Greek and Roman architecture.

My how the things have changed...

The Problems When Trying to Finish a Highrise in this Economy

Last week YoChicago had an interesting post looking at Museum Park South and some of the issues they're running into given the current economy. This probably isn't only happening to this building, but any others that are trying to close on units this year.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Chicago Central Area Action Plan Approved

We had a bunch of posts about the Central Area Action Plan a couple of months ago talking about the plan and how it potentially could affect the Sloop. Yesterday the Chicago Plan Commission endorsed the plan as well. Although this is a step in the right direction for supporters of the plan, it still is just a plan and doesn't provide funding:
The commission's unanimous vote is the final action and makes the document official city policy. No City Council action is required because no law was made. While the document includes cost estimates and plans for raising the money, it offers no funding guarantee. Individual projects may have to be deferred for years or may never happen.
Although we imagine that some of the projects will happen by 2020, it's almost 100% certain that all of them won't. Many people feel that the Olympics are the wild card. If Chicago gets the Olympics then some of the projects will likely get the green light quicker.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Motor Row Signs Highlight Historic Spots in the Neighborhood

For a lot of Chicagoans the Near South Side's history is some what of an unknown. If you're a history buff or have lived in the neighborhood for awhile, you might realize that Chicago's South Side was once the premiere residential neighborhood in Chicago. According to the sign at the bottom of the page it was Chicago's 'Original Gold Coast'. Early city magnates such as Marshall Field, Philip Armour, and George Pullman built massive mansions on Prairie Avenue. Some of these grand estates are still on display throughout the neighborhood.

The Prairie Avenue Historic district is just one of the many spots that are called out on the new historic signs in the neighborhood. We've seen one sign on the east sidewalk by the corner of Roosevelt and Michigan and the another one on the west sidewalk close to the corner of Cermack and Michigan. We imagine there are some others dotted around the neighborhood as well.

Although the signs aren't spectacular, they are nice and informative for people not familiar with the areas rich history. Other buildings highlighted on the signs include Chess Records, Motor Row, the evolution of Central Station, St. Luke's Hospital, the Lexington Hotel, Second Presbyterian Landmark Church.

Not spectacular, but it's a nice touch to make the neighborhood's history a little more prominent.

Kaw Kaw's Cigar Society Evicted

The popular and often busy Kaw Kaw's Cigar Society (33 east 13th street) looks like it has been evicted. Two signs are posted on the windows stating that the Cook County Sheriff has evicted the business. We will keep you posted if we hear or read anything additional about the eviction.

YoChicago Looks at One Museum Park

The signature building of the South Loop's rise in our opinion is a beauty. However, it sounds like they're having some issues selling their three bedroom units. For more info check out YoChicago's recent post on units still for sale as well as rentals being listed in the building.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

South Loop Recording Studio Faces Foreclosure? is reporting that Pressure Point Recording Studio (2239 S. Michigan) is facing foreclosure. The studio has hosted stars such as Beyonce, Justin Timberlake, R-Kelly, Mariah Carey, Erykah Badu and Nelly according to their website.

Judging from a quote by Adrian Guerra, managing director of Pressure Point’s parent company, the studio isn't going anywhere:
“We’re not going anywhere,” Mr. Guerra said. “They’re not taking our property. People are still making music here.”
For those of you not familiar with the location or facility here is a youtube video:

Checking in at Roosevelt Collection

There has been a lot of coverage about the Roosevelt Collection going rental recently, so we thought we head on over and take a couple pics. In our opinion it seems to be progressing pretty nicely. Below is the west side of the building:
Here is a shot from Roosevelt looking in the entrance to the complex:
It looks pretty nice in our opinion, however we're curious how they plan on promoting all the retail stores within the courtyard? Do you think they will put the logos on the side of the building next to the Roosevelt Collection logo (in the picture above)?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Lollapalooza Time Lapse

Lollapalooza 2009 Time Lapse from Robert Hendricks on Vimeo.

Olympic TV Deal Postponed; Obama Still TBD for Copenhagen

In a mild boost for Chicago's Olympic bid, the USOC announced yesterday that they are postponing the launch of a Olympic television channel in the United States:

The U.S.O.C. chairman, Larry Probst, said Sunday that he had decided to delay development of the TV project until issues with the International Olympic Committee were resolved.

On Saturday, Probst met in Berlin with the I.O.C. president, Jacques Rogge, to discuss the U.S. Olympic Network.

“We want to try to get to the point where we’ve addressed all their issues and concerns as quickly as possible,” Probst said.

The I.O.C. criticized the U.S.O.C. last month for “unilaterally” announcing the start of the TV network on July 8, saying it raised complex legal questions and could jeopardize relations with NBC, the Olympic broadcaster.
The reason this became an issue for the Chicago 2016 Olympic big is because any disagreement between the IOC and USOC could cause IOC voting members to vote against Chicago for the 2016 games (it's a very political process as we've stated before). Again, the relations between the two parties threatened to derail the Chicago big, but luckily for Chicago the issue has seemed to be defused.

Finally, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil has confirmed that he will be in Copenhagen in early October to lobby for his country (as will the King of Spain. And Japan's crown prince). Chicago is the only bid that still hasn't confirmed who will be attending Copenhagen on their behalf. The big draw is obviously President Obama who has been rumored to attend. As we've stated before, if Obama shows up we think Chicago is a lock. If not, it's doubtful Chicago will win in our opinion (as simple and as silly as that may seem).

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Images from the Naming of "Battle of Fort Dearborn Park"

Looks like there was a good showing at naming of the new "Battle of Fort Dearborn Park":

Here is the dedication plaque:

Hat Tip to DT for the great pictures!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Roosevelt CTA Stop Gets Some New Paint and a Polish

It's no surprise that when thousands of people use a CTA stop the wear and tear start to show. That was definitely the case at the Roosevelt stop in our neighborhood. Although it's definitely not as tattered as some other CTA stops, it was starting to look (and smell) a little funky.

Late on Monday night we were coming home and saw a relatively large crew painting, polishing and power scrubbing the entire station. It's nice to see them take care of the stop, hopefully this one doesn't get neglected like so many others.

However, we still have one gripe and it has to do with something we call the 'pigeon' exit. For those of you who are not familiar it's the exit from the Green and Orange line platform. It lets you out on the South side of Roosevelt and you can't help but notice the infestation of pigeons. If you don't notice the dead pigeons rotting on top of the roof as you walk down the stairs of the exit, you have to notice the smell. Then once you step outside onto the street you're tip toeing around pigeon poop and dodging low flying pigeons that might as well land on your head.

Wow it's disgusting...we really wish they could do something about this nastiness!

Bicycles Are Sweet...See this Movie

Besides the Air & Water Show and the park dedication, here is another thing to do this weekend in the South Loop from Crain's:
SCREEN. The Bicycle Film Festival at Columbia College celebrates the two-wheeler in all kinds of movies. Check out "WHERE ARE YOU GO," a film about the Tour d'Afrique, one of the world's longest cycling races. Tour Director Shanny Hill will be available for a post-showing Q&A. Aug. 14, 7 p.m. Tickets are $10. 1104 S. Wabash Ave., 8th Floor, Watch the trailer.
(Image from Crains)

The Tribune Covers the Renaming of a South Loop Park

For more info see our old post here. See Chicago Journal's Post here. See Tribune's post today here.

(Tribune photo above by Antonio Perez / August 12, 2009)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Finally Some Retail Opens at 1720 S. Michigan

The retail spots on the west side of Michigan Avenue between 16th and 18th street is pretty bleak. Besides Coast Sushi, a launder and Kroll's there is nothing except a lot of vacant retail space. Well that's all about to change tomorrow as a new convenience store is opening.

We went by the place today and it looks pretty nice. Also wanted to say thanks to YV for sending us info on this:
Opens August 14th at 6:30 am at the 1720 S Michigan building (retail space furthest south)
Your local source for:
  • freshly brewed coffee
  • pastries baked daily
  • convenience and grocery items
  • a full line deli
  • beer, wine, and spirits
  • seating area with WiFi
  • much more...
Owned and operated by South Loop residents. When you come in ask about our upcoming grand opening celebration.
Interestingly enough there is also a recently opened convience store about a block north of this on the east side of Michigan Ave called Green Leaf Market. It will be interesting to see if there is enough demand for both of these stores.


Spotted at Northerly Island!

Sorry Scrumpy Baker, we know you're a fan...but they still look funny to us :)

Where Should the Burnham Memorial be Placed?

Two days ago we went to the meeting at Daley Bicentennial Plaza Fieldhouse to hear the architect, David Woodhouse, talk about his winning design of the memorial for Burnham Memorial which currently is planned to be placed on the north side of the Field Museum (where the tiered lawn is).

We didn't know what to expect, but coming in we've been pretty critical of the plan since this area is already nice. We've read articles from Blair Kamin and a press release from the Grant Park Conservancy (GPC) and initially agreed with them that this money ($5 million) would be better spent on other projects.

The project the GPC is lobbying for is updating the crossing at Queens Landing (which is the place where lake Michigan meets Buckingham Fountain). The image on the right is an illustration of what could be created (for about $25-$35+ million).

So the stage for the meeting was set and it was clear that most people in the audience weren't in favor of the winning Burnham Memorial plan at Museum Campus. Some of the highlights and valid points against the plan from the audience were:
  • It's already a nice spot and the funds could be used in a better place (ie Queen's Landing)
  • It's putting up two walls that block the beautiful view of the city
  • It's taking away additional green space by paving over a nice lawn
However, our opinion was actually swayed in favor of the current memorial plan to place it in the Museum Campus. The best reason we heard was that one of the main goals of the 'Museum Campus' was to have educational components (ie - the Field, Adler and Shedd etc.). By placing this memorial in the Museum Campus it provides an additional educational resource. In our opinion it's important for people to realize that the beauty of Chicago was a vision and a didn't happen accidentally.

Although we still think Queen's Landing is an important public initiative it really should be viewed in a separate light. We commend the GPC for bringing this issue to light, however we think this project will have to wait until we know whether or not we get the Olympics. If we get the Olympics, this project will get done. Maybe England will do it for Chicago 2016 as a present from the London 2012 Olympics...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Watch Out When Going Through the 11th Street Museum Campus Pedestrian Underpass

We have seen some major wrecks with hardcore bikers flying around the museum campus and nailing tourists, bikers and leisurely bike cruisers. According to this recent Sun-Times article this underpass is one of the cities most dangerous:
11th Street underpass to the Museum Campus

This underpass helps create a five-way intersection that can be hazardous because southbound cyclists on the trail are heading downhill. “People are coming down here and gathering speed, and people crossing the path aren’t expecting that traffic,” Warren says.
It's true...we've seen it!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

GPC to Hear Burnham Memorial Plans Tonight

According to Cityscapes (a Chicago Tribune blog):
The Grant Park Conservancy will hear from architect David Woodhouse, designer of the winning competition entry for the Burnham Memorial at the Museum Campus. The meeting is Tuesday, August 11, at 6:30 p.m. in the Daley Bicentennial Plaza Fieldhouse, 337 E. Randolph ( just east of Columbus Drive).
For more background on this topic check out some of our previous posts.

Lollapalooza is Sweet, but Star of the Show is Grant Park

Lollapalooza is something to witness and depending on who you talk to it's either the best of Chicago or the worst. It still baffles the mind that thousands of people can cram into beautiful Grant Park for three long and tumultuous days of music, partying, good times and more partying. We've been monitoring some of the recaps from the festival and particularly like this one by Jim DeRogatas at the Chicago Sun-Times. He essentially says that the festival has morphed into more of a party instead of solely being about the music:

During the long days, hanging out, drinking and seeing and being seen all seemed to take priority over the music, though certainly the sounds remained the nominal reason for the giant party. But the order of priorities, which seem skewed to the hardcore music lover, explained why the casual Lollapalooza-goer was so willing to embrace even mediocre acts and this year’s generally lackluster roster of headlining stars.
To be honest, that's fine by us. Don't get us wrong, it's an amazing thing to see so many great bands so close to our neighborhood but the star of Lollapalooza really is Grant Park. It's an amazing space that provides a truly unique experience. Although bands are known to disingenuously flatter the city they're performing in it seemed like most of them were sincerely in awe of the beautiful park and skyline that makes Downtown Chicago so special (at least half of the shows we saw referenced this).

We realize that many people hate the festival (as shown by our informal poll), but to us that's the beauty of a dynamic city. The greater Grant Park area really does cater to everybody. Whether it's Lollapalooza, Blues Fest, Obama's Election Night Speech, The Chicago Marathon, Taste of Chicago, Movies in the Park, the numerous charity walks throughout the park, Dancing in the Park it's an amazing and versatile place (and that's probably just the tip of the iceberg).

Anyway, enough of us gushing over the park...simply put it's a great place. With that said, if Chicago ends up getting the Olympics, we can only imagine how Grant Park will serve this historic event. It truly could be an amazing and epic event for the city of Chicago.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Shrine Pulling in Big Time Hip-Hop Talent

We still haven't been to The Shrine (2109 S. Wabash) yet, but have heard that it's a good spot from a couple different people. Judging by this blurb in the Trib, it sounds like the club/lounge is pulling solid, big name hip-hop acts:
The Shrine's big week: No other club is pulling in big name hip-hop artists like The Shrine. In its first three months, the South Loop venue has brought in Slick Rick, Rakim, Ne-Yo and Talib Kweli. This past week, Ludacris and Sean Paul stopped by.

I'm a fan of Ludacris' song "Undisputed," so I asked him why he had boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. make a cameo on the track

"Rap is real competitive just the same way boxing is," said Ludacris. "We always talk about taking other rappers out. That being said, I feel like I'm the best rapper. I wanted to get the best boxer in the game [for the song]."
If you're like us and have never been, maybe this video will help you get a sense of what a live concert at The Shrine is like:

Museum Park West to Top out in Early September

One Museum Park West (at 1201 S Prairie) will be topping out in early September according to this real estate news release. Despite the bad real estate market, nearly 70% of the units are under contract. However, that's not that surprising with the views this building will have.

Restaurant Coming to 1212 S. Michigan Ave

Chicagobusiness is reporting that a new restaurant will open at 1212 S. Michigan Avenue. Lou Canellis, a local and national sportscaster, is behind the venture.

Although details (such as name, concept etc) have not been confirmed we're guessing that the restaurant will open at the Southwest corner of Michigan and Roosevelt. This is a prime spot and even has a small outdoor patio that could potentially be a nice spot for enjoying some food and/or drinks (however wind and noise from the road could make it a bad spot as well).

If we're not mistaken, Mayor Daley used this commercial space as the headquarters for his last election but it has been vacant for well over a year (at least).

We will keep you posted if we hear/read anything else.

South Loop Park Naming Marks Historic Battle of Fort Dearborn

If you've wandered around the prairie district or used the 18th street footbridge to go to Soldier field you probably have noticed a small, innocent looking park at the corner of 18th and Calumet. It's not very impressive, but seems to serve its purpose by providing some green space for the local high rise and town house community.

However, this Saturday the park is going to be renamed "Battle of Fort Dearborn Park" to commemorate the battle:
Please join us on Saturday, August 15, 2009 from 10-11am for this important event that is almost 200 years in the making. Native Americans, battle descendants, War of 1812 reenactors, historians, National Guardsmen, Park District representatives, residents of the Prairie District Neighborhood Alliance and 2nd Ward Alderman Robert W. Fioretti will assemble to dedicate and name the park, "Battle of Fort Dearborn Park," and to place an historic marker which will commemorate the site for its significance in Chicago's early history.
Should be interesting and somewhat educational. For more background check out the Chicago Journal's recent piece on the renaming.

New Highrise Coming to 1441 S. Michigan?

It doesn't seem like the best time to be planning a new high rise in the South Loop, but Mayor Daley's nephew and his company are according to this article in the Sun-Times:
Robert Vanecko and his company have a contract to buy what's now the South Loop headquarters of the National Association of Letter Carriers at 1411 S. Michigan, which they plan to knock down and replace with a 220-unit apartment building.
For those unfamiliar with the exact location it's right next to The Chicago Firehouse restaurant.

(image from Chicago Architecture Info)

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Roosevelt Collection Officially Goes Rental

Not a huge surprise and something that we've read about before, but it looks like it's official now:
The Lofts at Roosevelt Collection, a 342-unit development originally slated as condos, will be converted into rental apartments, the developer said Friday.

Centrum Properties Inc., bowing to continued pressure in the condo market and particularly in the South Loop, said apartments in the building at Clark Street and Roosevelt Road would be available Sept. 1.
The good news is that the theater is still set to open in the November time frame.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Getting Ready to Head to Lollapalooza

Lollapalooza is officially here and we're getting ready to head out (regardless of the rain). Before we leave, here is the Tribune's and Sun-Times must sees for the weekend. We don't really agree with all of this, but to each his own.

Also, Greg Kot does a pretty good job of covering the festival live, so follow it there.

We will be checking in occasionally this weekend, so stay tuned.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Jazz at Milennium Park Tonight

We've been talking about Lollapalooza a lot on Sloopin, but if that's not your thing, maybe some world class Jazz is. Tonight there is a free concert at the beautiful Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park at 6:30 p.m.

The Chicagoist provides some great background on Rudresh Mahanthappa:
Success has come in a torrent for Rudresh Mahanthappa since he released "Kinsmen" almost a year ago. The album was declared one of the best of 2008 by folks from the New York Times, NPR, the Washington Post, Rolling Stone, the Village Voice, the Boston Globe...well, you get the idea.
Here is a clip of him and a band:


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Michael Jordan Commercial that was Shot in the Sloop

A couple of weeks ago we mentioned that Gatorade shot a commercial in the Sloop for the special edition Michael Jordan sports drinks. Well here is the final product and a short film about the thinking behind it and how it was done. The area should look familiar to peeps who have been to 18th and State:

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Gioco and Zapatista Rise to the Top at 1300 S Wabash

We agree! Gioco and Zapatista are our favorites as well.

We've read that people don't like Opera much, but in our opinion it's not that bad. Definitely not in the top two though.

One more comment about the 1300 block of Wabash. It looks like the signs for the stalled development at 1349 S Wabash have come down. We're not 100% sure if this is dead, but it doesn't look promising. Here is a link to an old YoChicago post about this development.

Who will Lolla Launch This Year?

T-minus 3 days until Lollapalooza 2009 and today we found this article on NBC Chicago's website talking about 5 bands that are flying under the radar and are about to be launched to stardom:
Chairlift: Originally formed in Boulder, CO, this now Brooklyn-based trio was originally formed to create music for haunted houses. When the band members discovered that they had more to offer than spooky tunes, the band began crafting its avant-pop sound and booking NYC gigs with the likes of then fellow up-and-comers MGMT.

Joe Pug: This folk singer may be new on the scene, but he tops the local must-see list. At a mere 24 years old, Pug's lyrics convey wisdom well beyond his years, as he fashions lyrics that tug at your heart strings with forceful conviction. With palpable influences like Bob Dylan and John Prine, Pug's writing suggests both heartache and elation, nostalgia and prospect. His lyrics speak to the masses, as all good Folk music should. Pug's distinctive voice, poetic lyrics and loyal harmonica create the perfect Folk trifecta.

Blind Pilot: This Portland duo offers well-crafted, folksy Americana tunes with lulling melodies. Their debut album, 2008's Rounds and a Sound, led to a world tour supporting the likes of vets such as the Counting Crows and Decemberists. Blind Pilot proves that a band can craft beautiful music despite having only two members.

Hey Champ: These local boys (Rockford, IL) will introduce their electronic-pop sound at this year's festival. The trio lucked out last year when Lupe Fiasco asked them to join him on his national tour. Catchy electro-rock songs like "Cold Dust Girl" are sure to get you moving.

Santigold: This Wesleyan-educated Philadelphian songwriter has compiled an impressive musical resume as of late. Not only has she collaborated with N.E.R.D., The Strokes, and Kanye West, earned co-writing credits for Ashlee Simpson and served as tour support for M.I.A., Bjork, Jay-Z, and Coldplay, but the singer has also created a well-respected musical persona. Most often compared to M.I.A. or the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Santigold delivers an energetic live performances, backed by catchy pop beats.

Out of these 5, Santigold and Hey Champ sound promising to us. However, Santigold is pretty big already so not sure we would classify her as 'under the radar'...this one sound familiar? Think Bud Light Lime:

Monday, August 3, 2009

2 Businesses to Close; 1 Just Opened on South Wabash

The city has been working on repaving South Wabash for awhile, but that doesn't look like it's going to be enough to save two local South Loop businesses. Last week the Chicago Journal reported that Prarie Avenue Books will close in September unless a buyer emerges. The book store is one of a kind but seems to be running into stiff competition from discounted books online (among other personal considerations by the owners).

Today, the Chicago Tribune reports that Sam's Wines will be closing their recently opened mega store at the corner of Roosevelt and Wabash. In our opinion this store is beautiful and every time we've been it actually seemed pretty busy. CEO, Richard DiStasio claims that the closing is:
"Due to the slower than anticipated development of the South Loop area, we were forced to cease operations at that location,"
Not sure we believe that, but that's besides the point. Sam's has been having some issues from a corporate standpoint and from what we've recently read the family who created the business sold out. Regardless, this is probably good news for some of the local wine stores like Wine Styles and South Loop Wine Cellar.

Finally, Dairy Queen just opened up on the northwest corner of Congress and Wabash. Although we really like dilly bars, we're not that excited about this one.

(Hat Tip: JC)

Another Hotel Strike Coming to Michigan Avenue?

According to Chicago Business, the Blackstone Hotel and their workers are having some issues hammering out a new contract:
Labor tensions are flaring at the Blackstone Hotel just as union leaders and local hotel owners prepare to negotiate a new contract for about 6,500 workers at 30 Chicago-area hotels where the current pact expires at the end of this month.
Most people are familiar with the long standing strike at the Congress hotel, but this is the first we've heard about issues at Blackstone. Regardless, this strike might not lead to a picket line but it's still could be a PR issue for the Olympic bid:
Both sides, however, may feel pressure to avoid a high-profile, protracted fight that could send convention business to other cities. A hotel labor brawl also would be a public-relations setback for Mayor Richard M. Daley's 2016 Olympics bid, with the final decision on a host city coming in early October. Union picketers have been marching in front of another Michigan Avenue hotel, the Congress Plaza, since 2003.
(photo from