Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Half of IOC Members Remain Undecided?

There is a lot of info out there about the Olympics, but Sports Illustrated has a good read that interviews various IOC members. The most interesting thing in the article is a quote from an IOC VP about undecided voters:

IOC vice president Chiharu Igaya said "many" IOC members are undecided and will choose only after the cities' final presentations Friday. "The four cities are now neck-to-neck," he told the AP.

"That final presentation, yes, it's going to be crucial," said Willi Kaltschmitt, an IOC member since 1988. He said he believes that half or more of his 105 colleagues remain undecided.

X/O Condo Hit With Foreclosure Suit

This has been in the making for awhile, but Chicago Real Estate Daily is reporting that the planned X/O Condominium (1712 S. Prairie Ave) has been hit with a $20.2 million foreclosure suit:
Caught by the depressed condominium market and the credit crisis, developer Keith Giles faces foreclosure on a South Loop property where he had planned a 479-unit condo project.

National City Bank has sued to collect $20.2 million from Mr. Giles and his partner in the development, Jerry Karlik, alleging that they defaulted on a loan for the site at 1712 S. Prairie Ave. Unable to secure a construction loan for the project, the pair simply ran out of time and options for a property that may now only be worth a fraction of the $13 million they paid for it in 2005.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Olympics Effect on Real Estate

NBC's website had an interesting article yesterday looking at the effect of the Atlanta and Salt Lake City Olympics on their local real estate markets. From the sounds of it, Atlanta has had more success than Salt Lake post-Olympics. However, Chicago's real estate market is much much different then either of those cities, so it's tough to get a solid comparison.

However, it's an interesting subject, because the thought across our city (and specifically in the South Loop) is that it would be a big boost for real estate throughout Chicago. We've also heard the theory that it would be negative because it would drive development and over saturate the market (again!). Although there is merit to both arguments, to us the benefit of the Olympics is the signal it will send about the cities intentions for the South Side of Chicago.

Although enhancements have already been happening in and around the Sloop, more emphasis would be put on capital and infrastructure improvements. Businesses, restaurants and shops would see this as their chance to jump on the bandwagon and take advantage of an emerging neighborhood.

Sloopers please don't be offended by this. We love our neighborhood as it is right now and we know you do too, but it ain't perfect. Improvements will happen eventually, but we're confident that the Olympics would speed up the process and in our opinion that's a good thing.

Chillaxin at M Lounge

Every so often you stumble upon something that makes you feel good and that was the case this past weekend in Sloop. After a solid dinner at Zapatista (we had some great Margaritas and a huge portion of Fajitas), we decided to get a couple after dinner drinks at M Lounge (1520 S. Wabash). We've heard great things about the place but for some reason have never ventured over to the spot.

We're definitely glad we did. Although it was relatively early and the place was pretty empty it allowed us a chance to chat with the incredibly nice bartender. He gave us his Martini recommendations, a rundown of the M Lounge's vibe and his thoughts on the South Loop neighborhood.

The general decor was what you would expect from a lounge; low sofas, subdued lighting and solid music gently playing over the speakers. The bar is impressive with any liquor you would want and it sure seemed as if there specialty was Martinis. We opted to test the Martini menu and was pleasantly surprised (although one of us isn't a huge Martini person). We went with a Orange Dreamsicle Martini which tasted as would be expected and the recommended Espresso Martini which tasted like a drink you would find at your favorite coffee spot. Both were solid.

For the second round we were intrigued but a little apprehensive about the 'Gummy Bear' Martini. We asked the bartender about his thoughts and he said it actually tasted like a gummy bear. Again, as advertised it tasted like the candy. Also, for those of you who are into presentations this drink was served with three gummy bears on a black toothpick, which was cute.

Men, if we just lost credibility due to you gaging on the 'cute' reference, please don't hold that against M Lounge. We promise you will like the place and the incredibly sexy picture of a half naked women in the Men's bathroom with a great rear.

Anyway, it's a great spot and something we will definitely be going back to. And if you're into music they have live Jazz every Tuesday and Wednesday and a 'jazzy type DJ' every other Thursday.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Circle Line Hearings

Chicago Journal posted that the CTA is holding three circle line community meetings this week. The closest one to the Sloop will be tomorrow evening in the University of Illinois-Chicago's Molecular Biology Research Building, 900 S. Ashland. A presentation is scheduled to start at 6:15 p.m.

Here is a link to old Sloopin posts about Circle Line issues.

Open Thread: St. Charles Air Line - 16th Street Train Tracks

A reader recently emailed us about information pertaining to the St. Charles Air Line (train tracks that run along 16th in the Sloop):
I was wondering if we could open a thread on the St. Charles Air Line that runs on 16th street in the SL. For a while now there have been rumors that the Canadian National Railway would be moving freight trains out to the E J &E line in the burbs. I know it has been a hotly contested issue...I am very curious to know where the plans stand, and I can't seem to find any information on-line about a potential timeline for transition or if the transition has been stalled, canceled etc. Thanks!

There was a mention of it in the Central Area Action Plan (last page of the link) where it said it would be converted into a 'recreational trail corridor connecting to the lakefront' but besides that we haven't heard anything.

Here is our last post on the topic.

Has anyone heard or read anything about this topic?

Transit Improvements With the Olympics?

It's been assumed that Chicago will receive vast transit improvements if Chicago wins the 2016 Olympics even though it is not explicitly stated within the official bid book. The Sun-Times looks at potential issues with the Olympics and transit improvements in an article today. They make it sound ominous, but we still feel like it's a slam dunk if we get the Olympics.

Shots Around the Sloop

Sunrise near the Planetarium, "The payoff for getting up at 5:30 am for a run..."

(Hat Tip: SB)

Obama Confirms Copenhagen Visit

The vote for the host city of the 2016 Olympics is just 5 days away and one of the final pieces of the puzzle finally was confirmed this morning. President Obama will be traveling over to Copenhagen on Thursday night to lobby for Chicago and address the IOC during Chicago's final presentation. Two weeks ago, it looked as if this wasn't going to be the case, however the president changed course and Chicago's bid backers have to be pumped.

The WSJ states that this could be Obama's successful going out party (that is if he is re-elected in 2012):
Obama wants the Chicago Olympics to top off his presidency in style. If he wins re-election, he’ll be handing over to a successor six months or so after the Games are held. By the summer of 2016 he will hope business is booming again and he can then present the Chicago Games as his crowning glory and a symbol of recovery on his watch.
He's got a ways to go before that will happen, but we could see this logic.

Anyway, this should be an interesting week for Chicago. We will do our best to keep you covered on interesting Olympic info.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

YoChicago Checks Out Astoria Tower

The guys at YoChicago recently had a couple posts about places in the South Loop. They're reporting that the Roosevelt Collection's first phase has already leased 70% of their 170 units.

In other local real estate news they give updates on prices for Astoria Tower's (900 S. Wabash) studios, one-bedrooms and two-bedrooms. They also took this great video from the patio space for the penthouse units. Simply put...amazing views:

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Olympic Host City Voting Process; Rio's Empty Promises

As we wait to see if Obama is going to Copenhagen for the Olympic vote next week, there is a ton of articles about the race. Although most aren't new news, today we found a good read on ESPN that summarizes the voting process and offers some insight on conventional thinking:
Ninety-nine of the IOC's 106 members are eligible to vote in the first round (members from countries with bid cities can't vote while their candidate is still in contention).

The city receiving the fewest votes is eliminated after each round until one candidate secures a majority. The vote is expected to go the maximum three rounds.

Some members tend to vote out of sympathy in the first round, which can produce some surprises. The key to victory is picking up votes from the cities which go out.

If Tokyo were to go out in the first round, it is believed many of its votes would go to Chicago. If Madrid goes out, the consensus is they would go to Rio.

The last sentence is interesting and is something we just read for the first time. We think they're implying that Asian countries have less animosity towards the United States then European ones, but who knows.

Anyway, it's safe to say that experts are predicting that the race is between Rio and Chicago. At this point, if you don't know the criticisms of Chicago's bid, you must be living under a rock. However, we don't hear as much about Rio's negatives. Time magazine's website has an interesting article on the empty promises of Rio's 'successful' 2007 Pan American games:
Winning the 2007 Pan American games was considered a big, if sometimes chaotic, success for Rio. To triumph over rival bidder San Antonio, officials used the same argument that this was Rio's turn. To back that up they promised to transform the city with a new ring road system, something called a "via light" railway (presumably a light railway), a new state highway and 54 km of new metro line.

But none of the roads and not one kilometer of proposed metro lines was built. Authorities also promised to clean up the Guanabara Bay, the fetid body of water whose smell assails visitors driving into town from the international airport. Although hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent, the stench persists and the bay remains a stinking eyesore.
If you think Rio has it in the bag, read the article. Neither city is perfect...we're looking forward to the coverage next week.

(Olympic image from 121st IOC Session & XII Olympic Congress in Copenhagen website)

NBC Comes to Winestyles Thursday Shindig

NBC's local website has a segment called 'About Last Night' where they go to various places and events happening around town. Last night they came to sloop and hit up Wine Styles (1240 S. Michigan). By the looks of it they had a good time:
We've seen parties at Wine Styles (1240 S. Michigan Ave) where the beats from the live band were so intense that folks were getting down on the sidewalk. Thursday night's event was a more low-key affair, with a guitarist/vocalist creating a smoothed-out scene, but this small boutique wine store doesn't seem to have any problems packing them in. Every Thursday is "Try Before You Buy," an opportunity to sip from five different bottles. Manager/sommelier doesn't let you know what you're getting into before you sip, in order to dispel any pre-conceived notions you may have. Such as there's nothing fun to do in the South Loop on a Thursday night before 9 p.m.
They also have a video of the night. The Wine Styles segment starts at 1:25:

(Video from NBC)

Trump Tower Serves as Striking Backdrop on Wabash Avenue

Yes, the Trump Tower isn't in the Sloop but it still looms large over one specific street, Wabash. Anytime you walk north on Wabash, it's nearly impossible not to notice the Trump Tower in the distance.

Although we don't claim to be architectural geniuses, it still looks impressive to us (albeit not in our top 5 favorite Chicago Skyscrapers). Today, Blair Kamin (of the Cityscape Chicago Tribune blog) takes a look at the architectural attributes of the finished Trump Tower. He goes onto to say that the best view is from Wabash Avenue:

Indeed, this skyscraper is at its most convincing when it is viewed in fragments rather than as a whole, or from angles that conceal its bulk.

From Wabash Avenue, its sides seemingly sheared off by the buildings on either side of the street, the tower bursts into view — taut, thin and elegant. Like the Chicago Board of Trade Building, it takes full advantage of its unusual site, which makes it appear to rise from the middle of the street.

Although the picture to the right is taken further north in the Loop, a similar picture is seen when walking north on Wabash anywhere in the Sloop. Again, not the best skyscraper in the city but it helps paint a unique 'picture' that adds to the backdrop while walking around in our neighborhood.

(image from Chicago Tribune)

Burnham Scavenger Hunt Tomorrow

If you're into Scavenger hunts, think you know Chicago, and don't have plans tomorrow, you may want to get some friends and sign up for the Daniel Burnham Scavenger Hunt. The hunt starts at 11am tomorrow (9/26):
Let's test your knowledge of Burnham and of Chicago. Join the Daniel Burnham Scavenger Hunt, a city-wide hunt to uncover the life and work of Burnham.

This daylong scavenger hunt will have a total of three separate hunts do one, two, or all three to compete. The three hunts will take place in the Loop, the South Loop, and Hyde Park. Cars aren't necessary, though you may want to use bicycles or the CTA. You decide the order of your hunts. The overall winner must complete all three hunts.

Create teams of up to 4 participants. Registration fee of $20 per team.
Sign-up quickly here.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

More Retail Action on Michigan Avenue?

Yesterday we went to dinner at Ma & I and as we were walking down Michigan Avenue we noticed some building activity in the vacant retail unit between Homemade Pizza Co. and the new store Entourage Man. We did some searching on the interwebs, but couldn't find any business permits for the location. However, on the door they had a permit for the build-out of a bathroom. Upon looking in it looks like two enclosed rooms are being built. Does anyone have any information on this one?

Also, there looks to be some movement in another vacant retail spot within the Michigan Avenue Tower building (1250 S. Michigan). The spot is next to cleaners and you can clearly see into the building, but it still doesn't look like much has been built. There are some materials in there though.

In other Michigan Avenue retail news, the Chicago Journal has an article about the two new grocers on Michigan Avenue, Sky Grocer and South Loop Market.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Chinatown El Station to Be Revamped

The Chicago Journal found this press release from the CTA that says that $12.5 million from the federal stimulus program has been set aside to rebuild the Cermak-Chinatown station on the Red Line.

Good news for Chinatown and the far south side of the Sloop!

Want to Move to the Sloop, but Can't Afford to Rent a Single?

Renting can be expensive, especially in a nice high-rise. If that's your problem or if you know someone jonesing to move to the Sloop but needs a roommate, then Burnham Pointe (730 S. Clark) has a solution.

YoChicago had a recent post about the new option at the building where Burnham Pointe:
invites renters to add their names, interests and lifestyle data to a database with other individuals’ info. From there, either you pick a roommate, a roommate picks you, or BP hooks you up.

Sloopin Turns 1!

It's September 22nd, 2009 and that means Sloopin turns 1 today! It's been a year since the site launched and a ton has happened in the South Loop.

Thanks to everyone for the support, comments, emails, pictures and tips. We wouldn't be doing this if it wasn't for you!

In honor of the birthday we thought we would provide some info and numbers on the site this past year:
Again, thanks and we look forward to the future in the Sloop!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Chicago World Music Festival Comes to the Sloop

The Chicago World Music Festival started this past Friday, but continues through Thursday at various spots across the city. Within the Sloop, Columbia College's Conway Center (1103 S. Wabash) is hosting two free concerts for the festival. The Marta Gomez Quartet plays this Tuesday (9/22) at 7pm and Vlada Tomova's Balkan Tales (9/23) plays on Wednesday at 7pm.

Each link above has background and samples of their work. Enjoy!

South Loop Animal Hospital Set to Open Doors This Wednesday

Another business is set to open up shop this Wednesday (9/23) on South Michigan Avenue. The South Loop Animal Hospital is located at 1640 S. Michigan Avenue (right next door to South Coast Sushi). We couldn't find an official website, but here is their Facebook page. Welcome to the Sloop!

A Surprising Weekend: Bears and Obama

A surprising weekend unfolded as two issues we like to follow changed course and totally surprised us.

First the bears upset the defending Super Bowl champs, the Pittsburgh Steelers, 17-14 on a late field goal by kicker Robbie Gould. Although the bears had high expectations coming into the season, last week put a damper on them as team captain Brian Urlacher was injured and team 'savior' Jay Cutler looked human. Regardless, the Bears bounced back yesterday and didn't look particularly sharp, but got a win. It should be a fun season.

Second, the drama that is the Chicago 2016 Olympic bid saw President Obama pull a 180 as he will now be dispatching an 'advance team' to Copenhagen to look into security and accommodations for a potential visit. As you probably remember, just last week Obama said he wouldn't be able to make the trip due to the ongoing discussions about Healthcare.

We agree that Healthcare is more important then the Olympics, but many people saw this as a weak excuse not to attend the IOC meeting in Copenhagen on October 2nd. He is the President and it's not like he's flying in coach on American Airlines where he can't get work done. Last time we checked the world revolves around his schedule and Air Force One makes long flights easy.

This change of heart was great news for Chicago's bid team and from the sounds of it Mayor Daley is 'very, very confident' about the bid. In other Olympic news the Tribune takes a look at the Olympic legacy in Atlanta, the last US city to host the summer games (in 1996). A good read as the debate on whether or not the Olympics would be good for Chicago continues.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Bear Down

The Bears 2009 come home to Soldier Field this Sunday for their first regular season game in Chicago. It's going to be a tough one as we play host to the defending champions, the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Should be a crazy scene in the Sloop on Sunday. The game starts at 3:15pm, but expect tailgaters early!

Bear Down...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Arrrr Matey

The Chicagoist tipped us off to the "talk like a pirate" event this Saturday.

We probably won't be there, but if you got kids it could be fun!

We Love Live Concerts in the Sloop

If you come to Sloopin often, you probably realize we like live concerts. Why you might ask? Well it's quite simple actually. Good music is obviously the key, but an amazing show adds so much to the experience. Although YouTube doesn't do it justice, you can still get a sense of the spectacle.

This past weekend U2 launched their 360 tour at Soldier Field. We didn't go, but you can tell that it was an amazing show just by checking out their stage:

We're not huge U2 fans (we like them, but wouldn't shell out the money to see this), but it reminded us of the Daft Punk light show at Lollapalooza in 2007. However, not every band has the capacity or funds to pull off shows like this, but that's fine. Sometimes the people watching makes up for this and that is always the case at Lollapalooza. If you don't believe us check out these sweet moves from Perry's stage at Lolla:

Who wouldn't pay $200+ to watch moves like that?

15 Days and Counting Until Olympic Host City Decision

It's a sprint to the finish line as the decision on which city will win the right to host the 2016 Olympics games. With just over 15 days left in the race, Chicago's bid has been in the news far more then any other bid (thanks American media...) but from what we gather Chicago isn't sitting as comfortably as they were before.

Yesterday, the big news came from the White House where the Obama's welcomed the Chicago 2016 Olympic Bid Team, Mayor Daley and others to help promote the bid. Although it helps with publicity, the major story was that president Obama confirmed that he was not heading to Copenhagen to woo IOC officials since he has more pressing issues like Healthcare. Although it's hard to fault the president for this, it's pretty clear that Chicago's bid team is bummed. It's been repetitively stated that his presence would be an immense help to the bid. Richard Pound, a Canadian IOC memeber, went a step further stating his 'absence would be noted'.

The Chicago Tribune has a nice piece editorial piece on the Obama/Olympic debate:
Official word from the White House is that First Lady Michelle Obama will lead the U.S. delegation to Copenhagen next month to support Chicago's bid to host the 2016 Olympics. The president himself is busy with health-care reform and can't commit "at this time," according to his staff.

Busy with health-care reform? That's the excuse? Is he afraid that House Republicans would launch a surprise attack on Medicare on Oct. 2 while he's in Copenhagen?

That sounds pretty flimsy. We suspect that Obama is being cautious about putting his prestige on the line and coming home empty-handed. It would be tough to lose to a guy whose nickname is Lula (Brazilian President Luis Ignacio Lula da Silva will represent Rio.).

In other Olympic 'financial' news, Media Mogul Rupert Murdoch gave Chicago's bid a slight boost when he said his company News Corp. (home of Fox and other outlets), probably wouldn't bid for the games since it doesn't make business sense. However:
Murdoch pointed out what would make business sense for both companies: holding the summer games in Chicago. If the Windy City gets the spot, expect the executives to firm up their answers quickly, and come back saying “yes.” That would make a good advertising opportunity for whoever gets those broadcast rights.

So take these things for what they're worth. We really don't know what to think. We've been saying President Obama is going to win it if he is there. If he's not, we don't think Chicago's going to win.

Finally, according to the betting odds Chicago is still the favorite. If there is one thing we're confident in it's a bookie...they're always right!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Future of 18th Street

In honor of the 100th year anniversary of Daniel Burnham's plan for Chicago, the city and various architects/visionaries have created an exhibit called "Big. Bold. Visionary. Chicago Considers the Next Century." The exhibit, which is located at 72 E. Randolph and runs from Sept 4th - Oct 11th, displays a wide variety of unique plans . Many seem reasonable and attainable, but most are pie in the sky ideas (which is fine...just not very practical).

A lot of the ideas revolve around the lakefront and one in particular addresses an 18th street bridge that connects to Northerly Island and drastically changes the area (see image on the left). This is a concept from Keith Campbell at
RTKL Chicago, called 'Peir 2'

The project proposes construction of a new elevated parkway along the South Loop’s eastern edge; the reorganization of Northerly Island to a more natural, park-like state; and completion of the symmetrical intention of the Plan of Chicago through the addition of a second pier in line with 18th Street, extending equidistant into the lake as its northern counterpart, Navy Pier.

We realize that this is a 'vision' and probably won't happen, but it got us thinking, what will 18th street evolve into?

As of today, it's a nice quaint area that has seen tremendous residential development, but still lacks retail and restaurants. However, we feel that this stretch will eventually bloom in these departments. There are many potential dominoes set-up and if pushed over could set off this retail development (i.e. - Olympics, CTA building a stop at 18th). Regardless, in our opinion this will eventually happen, however how soon could be dependent on the 'dominoes' falling.

18th street already has some key attributes that seem ideal to make this a major retail/walking street (think Armitage in Lincoln Park). First off, 18th street already has a walking bridge that connects to Soldier Field. Although this currently isn't very impressive, if money was invested it could be much better. People come to Soldier Field for a lot of events (not just Bears games) so having bars, restaurants, shops, etc seems like a natural fit.

Second, Prairie Avenue (and the district) is a beautiful and historic area, but under-appreciated since there isn't an easy public transportation option to get to there. Although it's unlikely that people would only make the trip down to check out Prairie Avenue, it serves as a nice attribute that aides to the character of the overall neighborhood.

Finally, Motor Row (aka Michigan Avenue) now has numerous vacant retail spots that are prime for bars, restaurants and shops. There are businesses that are starting to pop up here and there, but there is still a long way to go. However, give it some's already starting to change. Other surrounding streets will also most likely follow suit. However, these might take a little longer. Regardless, we see a lot of potential on 18th street and the surrounding areas.

Maybe we're drinking to much South Loop kool-aid, what do you think?

(Hat Tip: D-Beezy)

More Talks About a Green Line Stop at 18th

There has been some discussion recently on Sloopin about the potential of a Green line stop at 18th and State and today the Sun-Times is reporting that this potential station was part of a city planning report submitted yesterday:
"There's no station on the Green Line between Roosevelt and 35th Street. That's a large span without a stop," said CTA spokeswoman Noelle Gaffney. "With ongoing development in the South Loop, there has been discussion about an in-fill station at either of those locations."

A new Green Line station at 18th or Cermak was part of a city planning report submitted to the Regional Transportation Authority on Tuesday. An 18th Street station would provide easier passage to Soldier Field and the lakefront.

According to the article there is no money for this yet, but our guess is that this will happen eventually. If Chicago gets the Olympics, expect it to happen quickly. If not, it might drag on a little.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Stimulus Money Comes to South Michigan Avenue

A couple of months ago we mentioned that funds from the 2009 recovery and reinvestment act were slated for the Sloop. Last week, one of these projects ('C' on the map) got underway as the road from Michigan Avenue to Balbo was torn up and recently repaved.

It looks much smoother and better. It still needs to be painted, but after that we think this stretch will be complete. After that, it looks like a similar process will get underway between Balbo and Congress.
In other stimulus news, we recently drove by the Harold Ickes homes (section 'A' on the map) and many of the building are completely down.

The Shrine Shines Again With Top Notch Hip-Hop Talent

If you didn't know, last Saturday night, the Hennessy Artistry Movement brought Chicago-bred MC Common and the Roots as the backing band, to the Shrine (2109 S. Wabash).

It was a private events and tickets were hard to come by. If Hip-hop is your thing, it looks like the Shrine is the place to be. Here is a link to a review of the intimate concert from Timeout Chicago.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sky Grocer Finally Opens

It looks like Sky Grocer (1255 S. Michigan) is finally open. We only peaked in, but it looks very nice. Has anyone been inside to check it out?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

U2 Monster Stage Invades Soldier Field

If you're one of the thousands of people who hate the renovated Soldier Field because you think it looks like a space ship landed on the old structure, then you probably would laugh because it looks like Soldier Field is now a landing pad for UFOs. U2 brings a gigantic stage to Soldier Field for the weekend and in our opinion it looks like another UFO has landed on the grounds:

Michelle Copenhagen Bound, Will Barack Make an Appearance?

Late yesterday, it was announced that Michelle Obama will be heading to Copenhagen to lobby IOC members on behalf of Chicago's 2016 Olympic Bid. This is good news for the bid, but still not exactly what they want.

Understandably, it sounds like President Obama won't commit due to other more important issues (like trying to pass healthcare reform or making sure the economy turns around). However, the door doesn't seem to be closed on a surprise trip to Copenhagen.

The fervor around this topic seems to be the highest yet. The Sun-Times has this pretty interesting quote:
But Ed Hula, who runs the Atlanta-based Olympics Web site, has been told Obama's presence is crucial.

"I had an IOC member tell me this morning if Obama goes to Copenhagen, Chicago will win; if he doesn't go, it will be a very close race," Hula said Friday.

And if you want an insider's perspective:
Richard Pound, an IOC member from Canada, says the race is so tight that Obama's presence could make or break Chicago's bid.

Royalty and heads of state are expected to be in Copenhagen to lobby for their respective cities, including Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo.

"It would be a great show, and I think people are looking for a reason not to vote for one or another," Pound said.

"You send messages by having those people there that your country is really enthusiastic about this and stands behind this," Pound said. "Your competitors will use the absence as effectively as possible, especially when you have someone as charismatic as your president," he said.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Will He Stay or Will He Go?

Will President Obama stay (in the US) or will he go (to Copenhagen) is the big Olympic question today. The rumor floating around on the interwebs this afternoon/evening was that he was probably not going, but that might have just been the politically correct statement at the time by Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs.

Not much new news to this story, but this is probably the biggest question and story leading into the October 2nd vote. As we (and many others) have said, if he goes...Chicago looks good...if he doesn't it's doutbful.

Olympic Round-Up

Some interesting stories in regards to Chicago's bid to host the 2016 Olympics:

A big obstacle was tackled yesterday as Chicago aldermen voted 49-0 in favor of providing a blanket financial guarantee to the IOC, something the bid was heavily criticized for last week by the IOC evaluation committee. This seems to be perfectly orchestrated move as now the bid team can march to Copenhagen for the final vote in the beginning of October telling IOC members how they fixed one of the biggest issues of the city's bid.

Another story from NBC is that President Obama is planning on hosting a group of Olympians in the white house. This obviously is an attempt to promote Chicago's bid and our guess is that it will be well received. However, the million dollar question is whether or not Obama will be heading to Copenhagen to lobby IOC official for Chicago.

Finally, this week the PGA tour is in Chicago at Cog Hill for the BMW Championship. The reason this is interesting is because golf might be added to the bill for the 2016 Olympics and Tiger Woods (ever heard of him?) is convinced the recently remodeled Dubsdread course at Cog Hill would be a great place to host the tournament if Chicago wins the 2016 Olympics.

Lots of interesting stuff on the Olympics...

Safety & Tasty: Get A Flu Shot with a Glass of Wine

For the wine drinker who still needs to get a flu shot, the South Loop Wine Cellar has an event for you:
On September 17th from 7 to 9 pm the physician will be the host of the “vaccine and vino” event at the South Loop Wine Cellar on 1442 S. Michigan Ave, where a $40 shot also allows you to taste five different wines — about two glasses.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Holy Maki Goodness at South Coast Sushi

If you are looking for some delish sushi served with yummy cocktails in the South Loop, look no more! South Coast (1700 S. Michigan Ave.) is a fun-filled and hip sushi restaurant with the same tasty sushi as Bucktown’s Coast, but with the great perk of a liquor license! Sooo bring on the lychee spritzers and the wasabi martinis!

Tuesdays and Wednesdays offer ½ price drink specials, so it is definitely a perfect way to spend a weeknight grabbing dinner with friends. Holy maki goodness is all I can say! A great variety of interesting rolls and even a sweet potato maki for those a bit hesitant to go raw. The portions are pretty large and not very expensive. Two thumbs up for the classic Spider roll and Spicy Tuna roll. The service was not the fastest but the pleasant ambiance made the wait go rather quickly. So next time you are in the South Loop check out South Coast for your sushi fix.

(Hat Tip to Kathy K for the Review!)
(Image from South Coast Sushi)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

More Union Issue for Blackstone Hotel

Blackstone Hotel, the recently renovated luxury hotel that is often referred to as the 'hotel of presidents', continues to have issues with their workers union according to this article in the Chi Town Daily News. The hotel is located at 636 S. Michigan Avenue (at the northwest corner of Michigan avenue and Balbo).

Sun-Times Provides More Backround on Recent Michigan Ave Retail

We've had some posts on the new stores that have opened or are opening in the near future (Sky Grocer, Entourage Man and South Loop Market), but today the Chicago Sun-Times provides some quick background on each of these stores.

Sky Grocer, which is the only store not open yet, plans to open its doors this Thursday (9/10) according to the article:
Sky Grocer, with 2,000 square feet on the ground floor of the Sky 55 condo building, will open Thursday morning selling Chicago favorites such as Vosges Chocolate and Milk and Honey Granola, along with organic eggs, organic milk, hundreds of craft beers, and fruit, produce and regular groceries.

"We aim to be a miniature Whole Foods with a convenience factor," said owner Paul Stellatos, 28, who runs similar neighborhood stores in Bucktown and Humboldt Park/Logan Square.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Fictional Law & Order Episode Upsets Rio 2016 Bid Team

If you're a fan of the popular show Law & Order, it would come as no surprise to see a fictional episode of the show 'ripped from the headlines'. If you're also a fan of the 2016 Olympic coverage, then you'll get a chuckle out of this article on MSN:
The bid team for Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympic Games reacted angrily on Monday following an airing last Friday in Brazil of an episode of the hit fictional American television series 'Law & Order - Criminal Intent'.

They were furious because the episode made by NBC - who are the American TV rightsholders to the Games and provide 25percent of revenues - depicts the villain of the piece as a man whose security firm would land a huge contract with Rio de Janeiro should they win this fictional bid.

We realize Olympic bids are a high stakes game, but it's still funny that the article alludes to an NBC conspiracy theory to destroy Rio's bid....

Friday, September 4, 2009

We Want Your Input!

It's been just under a year since we launched the site and we're proud to say Sloopin is going strong. However, we're always looking for tips, suggestions and ideas to help us improve the site.

With that said, we would love for you to either post a comment or send us an email at to let us know what you want.

It can be as simple as telling us what type of content you would like to see more of or it could be as complex as changes/improvements to the site (like new sections, features, etc.). Also, don't hold back on the criticism. Are there things you don't like or would like us to stop doing?

We can't promise to implement all the changes, but we will try our best to continue to evolve the site to meet the needs of the neighborhood and our readers.

Thanks for the support thus's been a fun ride and we truly appreciate all the comments, emails, videos and pictures you've sent us! Keep it up!

Poverty in Chicago Documentary Features the Sloop

There have been a lot of article and comments on the Ickes Homes recently (click here for links by Chicago Journal, ABC7 and Sloopin), but a good friend of the blog recently sent us this video titled Poverty in Chicago.

Although the purpose of the video is to showcase stories, problems and issues with homelessness, much of the video takes place within our neighborhood during 2005 and 2006. Throughout the film you will see many South Loop places such as the old Pacific Garden Mission that was on State Street, many scenes in the south side of Grant Park, and finally a piece where a homeless guy takes the interviewer down to the Ickes Homes to show how easy it is to score some crack cocaine.

It's about an hour long, but is pretty interesting:

(Hat Tip: JG)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Rio Seems to Be Inching Ahead in Race for 2016

Today the IOC 2106 evaluation committee released their findings from their visits earlier this year and for the most part the results were as expected. Every bid is said to be capable of hosting, but each bid has unique strengths and weaknesses.

Judging from media reaction we've read today, Rio seems to be the new and unlikely favorite based on the report (however some sources seem to be biased). Rio is making a strong push to be the first South American city to host the Olympics, which seems to one of the main reasons they might win.

All this speculation is pretty subjective given the highly political nature of the IOC process, so take it with a grain of salt.

The Chicago Tribune sums up Rio's pros and cons:
• Transportation, where the report said efficient implementation of transport operations during the Games and delivery of new transport infrastructure was ``critical;''

• Housing, where ``the insufficient number of hotel rooms'' and difficulty to obtain guarantees for cruise ships as part of the housing plan ``places extra pressure on Rio;''

• The massive scope of the urban regeneration plan that is part of the bid. That the enormous cost overruns in London have largely been cause by tying the 2012 Olympics to urban regeneration is a cautionary tale.

• And the marketing and communications challenges linked to Brazil's being host to the 2014 soccer World Cup.
In regards to Chicago's bid:
• The transport plan includes factors that could be a ``major challenge;''

• The Chicago budget was ``ambitious but achievable'' but the city needs an ``extensive sponsorship program'' to make it work.

• The Olympic Village plan a potentially ``special experience for the athletes'' but noted no full financing guarantee for its construction was provided when the commission visited in early April.
Madrid seemed to get dinged the most by the report which essentially said that they have organizational issues. Tokyo also didn't have the most glowing report mainly due to low public support.

In our opinion it's a race between Rio and Chicago (as we've been saying for awhile now). Rio's bid would be historic for the Olympic movement and would definitely help broaden the appeal of the games to a new continent. However, we think Chicago's plan is better and in return would make for a great Olympic games (we're obviously a little biased though).

Finally, the big wild card is whether or not President Obama goes to Copenhagen to lobby for Chicago. Without him, it looks like Rio is going to be the host. With him, Chicago probably has a good shot.

One month to go...should be interesting!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A New Swanky Swank Hotel for the Sloop

Boutique hotels have been the rage for awhile and although we don't exactly fit into the 'cool crowd' that frequents these places, we still admit that they tend to be pretty nice places.

Upon reading a recent article about Jackie Koo, the architect behind the new Wit hotel at the corner of State and Lake, it sounds like she's designed another swanky swank hotel for the South Loop. If you've ever been to the Wit you should be excited that we might be getting something similar in the South Loop.

The new hotel is called Aloft Chicago Millennium Park and is slated to open on September 1st, 2011 according to the Starwood website. The location looks to be at the corner of Wabash and Balboa which is ironic because it's not really in close proximity to Millennium Park (which is in the name of the hotel). If you're not familiar with Starwood hotels, they are the parent company of the wildly popular W hotels.

Although we're still skeptical about whether or not this hotel will happen, some of the renderings look pretty good! The best part in our opinion is that it looks like there is a rooftop lounge in the plans (which if anything like the Wits rooftop lounge would be a great addition to the neighborhood). Here is the rendering for the rooftop lounge at Aloft in the South Loop:

(Images from aloft website and koo and associates website)

1 Month and 1 Day Until 2016 Olympic Decision

It's September 1st and to some that means the summer is ending, to others it means football is kicking off and to others it means that our beloved baseball teams are disappointing us. But this year is a little different, September 1st means we are one month and one day until the IOC votes on who will be the host for the 2016 Olympics.

With this decision looming, media coverage is already starting to ramp up. Tomorrow should be interesting for people interested in the Olympics because the IOC evaluation committee is set to publicly release the 100 page document of their findings from their visits earlier this year. With such a tight race, many people think that this report could sway potential IOC voters:
Gerhard Heiberg, an IOC executive board member from Norway, called the IOC's evaluation report to be released Wednesday "very important". He said, "at this stage there is no front-runner and no one lagging behind. All are on an equal basis. The report will be studied by IOC members perhaps more than before".

Other interesting Olympic news coming out today was that the public support polls that were commissioned by the IOC have been released today via Reuters. Madrid had the highest public support at 93%, followed closed by Chicago at 92%, then Rio at 89%. Tokyo brought up the rear with 72% public support.

On the local front, Mayor Daley has issues with potential Olympic Committee executive salaries and two oversight plans are being discussed at city hall:

Bash on Wabsh Kicks Off This Weekend!

You've probably seen signs up throughout the neighborhood, but if not this is your notice. The 'Bash of Wabash - Sweet Corn Chicago' kicks off this holiday weekend. The event takes place on Saturday and Sunday September 5th and 6th on Wabash between 13th and 14th. Should be a good time especially if you like solid and fun cover bands. This year Sixteen Candles plays on Saturday night and Hairbangers Ball closes out the festival on Sunday. In case you've never heard of them here are a couple videos:

And here is the official press release:

The South Loop's premier outdoor event marks its sixth year by celebrating the cultural diversity of Chicago's fastest growing community this Labor Day weekend. THE BASH ON WABASH-Sweet Corn Chicago, located in the heart of the South Loop on Wabash Avenue between 13th Street and 14th Place. THE BASH ON WABASH promises to be an unforgettable experience.

Benefiting the Greater South Loop Association, this lively festival mirrors the South Loop's vibrancy, offering something for everyone. Local artisans will be displaying their creations. Area restaurants, showcasing some of the most interesting cuisines in town, will be on hand for you to sample their culinary treats. Fresh roasted corn and beer and wine will be available to highlight the end of the summer season. There will be an elaborate kids' area and a Corn Bags Tournament throughout the weekend. To top it off, revelers will enjoy a variety of live music, including some of Chicago's hot local acts from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. all weekend!

Buddy Guy's Legends has a New Building in the Neighborhood

The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that Buddy Guy's blues club, Legends, will be closing up shop at their current locale (754 S. Wabash and pictured below) and moving up the street to the old Hot House space (700 S. Wabash).

This is good news on multiple fronts! First, it means the club will be staying in the South Loop for the foreseeable future. As you may remember, there were some rumors that Columbia College was getting ready to kick the club out (since they owned the land) and build something new for their campus. Although this issue was temporarily resolved, it was something that lingered over the future of the club. With the move it sounds like Buddy was finally able to purchase a building and in turn makes the club less susceptible to being pushed out (assuming the club can afford the space and be profitable etc.).

Second, if you've ever been to the current club you would probably agree that it isn't the 'newest' building out there. From the outside, it sort of looks like the club could fall down if a brick was removed. Inside it's fairly dirty and rundown, which some call 'character'. We've always enjoyed going to the club for the music, but it's not the best place to see a show (unless you get a good seat in front of the stage). Anyway, from the article it sounds like the Hot House space is much better in terms of sightlines and sound quality.

We're happy to hear about this move and even happier that the club decided that the South Loop was the right spot for them:
"The more we thought about other areas, we realized that no place makes sense but here in the South Loop," says Isabelle Libmann, Legends' special events and public relations chief.

Guy is even more emphatic, stating, "I'm trying to keep some entertainment in the South Loop."