Friday, October 30, 2009

Bears Come Home This Weekend

The Bears come home to the Sloop this weekend after a hugely embarrassing loss in Cincinnati last weekend. If you didn't watch the game you were spared an ugly performance by an uninspired team.

Lucky for the Bears they get to take on the Cleveland Browns who come to soldier field with a horrendous record of 1-6. If the Bears don't win this one...yikes. Especially since this is a home game. The game starts at noon on Sunday.

Speaking of home games, a film student at Columbia College sent us a great video of Bears fans tailgating prior to the opening game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. We love tailgating and this captures it well:

Tailgating : Chicago Bears Home Opener 2009 from Christopher Bales on Vimeo.

Bear Down!

(Hat Tip to CB!)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Not Getting the Olympics Good for the Sloop?

We were all for the Olympics for a variety of reasons but mainly because of the infrastructure improvement that would have come to our neighborhood. However, the Chicago Tribune blog, Chicago Tribune 77, has a post today essentially saying that the South Loop will be better off because we didn't get the Olympics:

A healthy, sustainable real estate market requires a balance between supply and demand. Supply includes commercial and residential units available for sale and rent, as well as funding required to buy or lease these properties. This supply would have undoubtedly increased markedly with the increase in demand prior to and during the events. Olympic-related jobs would have provided income for purchase and rent of these properties, and commercial enterprises would have set up shop to serve workers and visitors at a record pace. Following the closing ceremony, however, visitors return home, jobs end, and demand would have dropped off drastically.

This imbalance would have had a significant negative impact on existing property in and around the Olympic venues. Empty commercial space does not indicate a healthy neighborhood to potential buyers, and I wholeheartedly believe that prices of residential properties in both near south and South Loop neighborhoods would have taken a serious hit in pricing. As we have recently seen, high levels of inventory take years to absorb. Nothing good comes of an oversupply situation. Post-Olympic buyers would not have benefited either - there wouldn’t be enough of them to take advantage of the situation.

It's a valid point and an argument we brought up and debated with people a lot. We still think the infrastructure improvements would have improved the neighborhood which in turn would have encouraged more people to come to the neighborhood which in turn would help with retail and real estate.

We still think the neighorhood will grow and flourish, but it will be slower since we did not get the Olympics in our opinion.

Hope we're wrong though.

Old YMCA Building on South Michigan Could Be Demolished

Blair Kamin of the Chicago Tribune had a post yesterday about the potential demolition of the old YMCA building at (830 S. Michigan Ave.), one of the oldest buildings on the historic street:
Unless a miracle happens, the old YMCA Building at 830 S. Michigan Ave., one of the oldest buildings on the Michigan Avenue streewall (historic district), will likely be demolished in the near future.

The owner this week applied for a demolition permit, after repeated citations by the city's Building Department. The parties were in court today at the Daley Center and the case has been continued to November 12. Alderban Fioretti's office was there, as were we and some neighbors.

We are all for preservation of old, historic (and in this case beautiful) buildings, but it sounds and looks like this one is in bad shape. If there is funding to restore and/or preserve it great, but most importantly we would rather have a functional building that brings something useful to the neighborhood. We walk by the building all the time and although you can tell it was great when it was in use, in its current form it's an eye sore.

In other demolition news, Kamin also reports that demolition of the first Gropius building on the old Michael Reese Hospital Campus has begun.

(image from

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Infrastructure Improvements in the South Loop

Every so often we get a newsletter from Alderman Fioretti about things happening in our ward and this particular one had some updates on infrastructure improvements around the Sloop:
Street Resurfacing work is underway on South State Street from Polk to 11th street and on South Michigan Avenue from 14th to 15th and 16th to 17th streets. Enjoy the smoother ride; I know your bikes and cars will!

The Wabash Street construction north of Roosevelt is nearing its completion. The street work is almost done; all that remains is the installation of our crosswalks!
We had a post about the Wabash construction if you want more background and some comments on the topic.

If you want to sign-up for the alderman's newsletter click here.

Also in the newsletter there was some information about the dedication of the new Printer's Row park:
I (ald. Fioretti) will be hosting a dedication of this park on Saturday, November 7th at 10 a.m. in coordination with Chicago Community Bank and other local businesses, organizations and institutions.
For an older post about Printer's Row park click here.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Halloween in the Sloop

One of our favorite annual 'holidays' is sneaking up on us this weekend and if you don't have plans for Halloween yet, there are a wide variety of events going down in the Sloop. And if the search for the perfect costume is still alluding you, maybe you could wander over to the temporary Halloween store at the corner of 9th and Wabash for inspiration.

In terms of events we haven't confirmed with every bar in the area, but our guess is that almost everyone in the area will have some sort of festivities if you're down for that.

For families, the Dearborn I & II neighborhoods always seem to have a solid showing of kids and parents strolling around door to door. We would assume the same can be said for many of the townhouses east of Michigan avenue.

If you need more organized fun, the Prairie District Alliance has plenty of activities:
  • A Halloween Pet Costume Contents that begins at 6:30pm at the Glessner Coach House (1800 S. Prairie) on Thursday October 29th
  • A Monster Mash Halloween Bash at Reggie's Music Joint (2105 S. State) that begins at 8:30pm on Friday, October 30th. The party includes food and drink for $25 and there will be a costume contest as well.
  • Finally they will have a Prairie District Children's Halloween Party on Saturday, October 31st from 4:30-6:30pm at the Glessner Coach House (1800 S. Prairie).
For more information and rsvp information on all the Prairie District Alliance activities please check their website here.1:30p

Monday, October 26, 2009

Could Some South Loop Red Light Cameras Move?

Doubtful in our opinion but we would love to see it! The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that:
Chicago's worst budget crisis in modern history has put the brakes on plans to expand the city's Big Brother network of red-light cameras to more than 330 accident-prone intersections by 2012.

Mayor Daley's tough-times 2010 budget includes no money for additional red-light cameras after installing them at 50 intersections this year, bringing the citywide total to 189.

Instead, the Chicago Department of Transportation plans to yank 20 existing cameras out of their current locations and "relocate" them "to intersections where they would have the most positive effect on traffic safety," according to budget documents.

As far as we know, there are only two red light cameras in the South Loop (one at the Roosevelt and State intersection and one at the Roosevelt and Canal intersection). Both are major thoroughfares so our guess is that these will not be moved. Are there any other intersections we're missing?

How do people feel about these cameras? Although we can't say we have been in more or less accidents because of them, the Chicagoist has a great post circa 2008 citing a study that claims these cameras cause more accidents because people slam on their breaks to avoid tickets. We couldn't agree more with the study...

Uncertainty Faces McCormick Place East Building

McCormick Place is a huge asset for the city as it draws tons of conventions to the area. As the complex has continued to grow and subsequently move west across Lake Shore Drive, the building known as McCormick Place East has been underutilized and is now becoming dated. Last week the Sun-Times had an article about the uncertainty facing the complex:
McCormick Place East needs $100 million worth of maintenance and repairs -- casting doubt on the long-term future of a lakefront building Mayor Daley once called a "Berlin Wall" that ruined the Chicago skyline.
We would love to see this building come down and be developed into additional lake front park space. The other interesting thing is that the space has been discussed for a casino, which goes to show you that any large building or piece of land close to downtown will undoubtedly be discussed for a hypothetical casino.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Movie Theater at Roosevelt Collection to Open in December

We just got word from one of our readers who lives in the Roosevelt Collection that the Kerasotes movie theater is officially going to open on December 18th, 2009. This is a little later then we initially heard (previous reports said it would open of November of this year), but regardless it's still good to hear that it will open this year.

For some of our old posts on the movie theater click here.

(Hat Tip PA!)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Retail Roundup

Astoria Towers (at the corner of 9th and State) is wrapping up construction and sales of condos continue. The Chicago Tribune has a little piece about the amenities at the building, which seem a little overboard (ie golf simulator) but nice regardless. Of more interest there looks to be at least one retail tenant that is planned for the building:

LA Boxing (which is on State Street between 8th and 9th) is a gym that focuses on workouts by utilizing a boxing type of class:
The LA Boxing Workout™ mirrors an actual boxing, kickboxing or mixed martial arts bout with five, three-minute rounds separated by one-minute active breaks.
Using a heavy bag, gloves, jump rope, timer and music, the workouts build cardio endurance and muscle tone. The concept is unique in that it teaches proper punching and kicking form and basic fighting techniques while offering a full-body workout. Classes are taught in a group setting to boost participation and intensity, and they are scheduled at convenient times. LA Boxing also offers a full range of free weights, weight machines and cardio equipment.

According to their website they will be opening sometime in November.

Smiling Bright (1247 S. Wabash) is set to open tomorrow October 26th according to posters in their windows:

Smiling Bright is a chain of professional teeth whitening stores, started by two entrepreneurs who recently left the corporate world to launch this unique concept with the simple goal of making teeth whitening affordable for
everyone, one smile at a time. The company has launched its premier
locations in Chicago, with more locations planned throughout the United

In other retail news, Halo (1351 S. Michigan), a salon geared towards men, has officially opened.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

If You See Something...Say Something

Crime is inevitable especially in a big city. The Chicago Sun-Times had a story today about smokers (who were outside smoking) who saw some form of crime in our neighborhood and called the police which in turn ended up helping them catch the criminals.

Simply put: if you see something suspicious...say something (call the cops or something)!

Spertus Institute awarded the Silver Level LEED® Certification

A good, unique looking building in the Sloop gets some love from LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).

Original Winner of Old Post Office Auction Wins Again

However, this time he closed on the property:
British developer Bill Davies has purchased Chicago's old post office for $20.8 million, about half the amount he agreed to pay at an auction in late August, according to several sources with knowledge of the transaction.

Davies closed Wednesday on the behemoth building, which ranks among the largest in the city and straddles the Eisenhower Expressway, at the downtown offices of the Chicago Title Insurance Co., according to the U.S. Postal Service.
Although it seems like he got a good deal since he initially won with a bid at $40 million, according to the Chicago Tribune the deal isn't that good:
Although the new price would be a bargain compared with Davies' initial $40 million bid, it is generally believed that he overpaid. The building has been vacant since 1995.

"There's so much deferred maintenance, and such a huge floor plate," said John Gates, a former real estate investor who has toured the building. "It's an awkward layout, with office space in four towers. Many smart people in Chicago have taken a hard look at that space for many years (and passed). It takes some guts to buy it."
Regardless, hopefully there is some plan for the property and it doesn't just sit there for years to come. Knowing this property and the problems associated with it, our guess is that it's going to be awhile until we see this actually serve as a functional building. Our fingers are crossed that we're wrong on this one.

(Image from

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Another Condo Auction Coming to the South Loop

40 condos at Michigan Avenue Towers II (1400 S. Michigan Ave) will go on-sale on November 15th:
The developer of Michigan Avenue Tower II on Wednesday will announce plans to auction 40 of the remaining 97 units in the 257-unit building at 1400 S. Michigan Ave. on Nov. 15, in the hope of sparking new interest and more realistic prices in the South Loop.

The project is the second high-rise South Loop condo building to go to auction this year, illustrating the continued glut of housing available there. It's also the second auction of a South Loop property set for Nov. 15.Earlier this month, Sheldon Good & Co. announced plans to auction 20 units on the same day for Motor Row Lofts, a 52-unit loft redevelopment at 2303 S. Michigan Ave.
You gotta feel bad for the homeowners in the building who already shelled out mucho dinero for their units before this auction. Guess it's a sign of the times.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

We Like Dolphins and Fish!

...followed by art, dinosaurs, and artifacts:

2010 Venetian Night Gets the Axe?

The Summer is over which means the cold is coming. For more bad news, we just saw an article today that said Mayor Daley's 2010 budget will likely propose cutting the popular summertime event, Venetian Night:
Venetian Night — Chicago’s annual parade of illuminated boat floats that draws up to 500,000 people to the lakefront — could be sunk, thanks to cost-cutting tied to Mayor Daley’s 2010 budget.

Special Events Director Megan McDonald said the decision to end a time-honored tradition that dates back to the days of former Mayor Richard J. Daley was dictated by a decline in corporate sponsorships.

Chicago’s production costs were $100,000. But that taxpayer tab was multiplied by the cost of police, fire, traffic and sanitation needed to stage the event.

Other potential changes to some other summer festivals that are close to the Sloop:

The sponsorship drought will also force the city to shave another day off an already reduced Jazz Fest - from three days to two - and move the Country Music Fest, Celtic Fest and Viva Latin from Grant Park to Millenium Park.

(image courtesy of Chicago Sun-Times)

More on the South Loop Neighbors Annual Loft Walk

From a recent YoChicago post on the topic:

In addition to organizing last weekend’s South Loop Neighbors Loft Walk, South Loop Neighbors Chair Helen Kaplow opened her Donohue Building home to visitors during the event. Having owned a home just above Hackney’s, a neighborhood bar and restaurant, for eight years, she has experienced both the pros and cons of loft living.

The initial draw for Helen was the neighborhood. South Loop, she says, is like a village: It’s common to run into neighbors at the local restaurants and book stores in Printers Row. And despite its proximity to the Loop, the city’s expressways, Grant Park, and Lake Michigan, it isn’t a big draw for tourists and remains a private area even in the summer and on weekends.

Eat Whatever You Want for Thanksgiving Yoga Challenege

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, so CorePower Yoga (555 W. Roosevelt) has a challenge to help you with the temptations of the holidays:
Lululemon Michigan Avenue is teaming up with CorePower Yoga for the Eat Whatever You Want for Thanksgiving Yoga Challenge. Stop into the store (only offered through the Michigan Avenue location) or either the CorePower Gold Coast or South Loop location, grab a punch card and purchase the special $69 unlimited month package (normally $165) to start the challenge. Take as many classes as you can (I'm going for 4-5 a week) from now until November 18 and kiss calorie counting on Thanksgiving day goodbye!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Wabash Avenue Construction Almost Done and it Looks Good

Last we read (back in March), the construction on Wabash Avenue (from Harrison to Roosevelt) was slated to be complete in the fall of 2009. So it's fall and it looks like the city did a solid job.

Although, it doesn't look like all the construction is completely done you can get a sense of the improvements. The main thing we noticed was that the sidewalks look wider. They also have added trees and fencing.

All in all it looks good to us!

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Majestic Second Presbyterian Church at 1936 S. Michigan

A local Chicago architecture blog highlights the beauty of the Second Presbyterian Church which is at the corner of Cullerton and Michigan Avenue (1936 S. Michigan Avenue):
This Gothic Revival-style church was designed by a prominent New York architect James Renwirk. When the church was built, the surrounding streets, including Prairie Avenue, were lined with the homes of wealthy Chicagoans. Members of the congregation included the Glessners, the Pullmans, and the widow of President Abraham Lincoln.

When a fire in 1900, destroyed a large portion of the sanctuary, the congregation hired architect Howard Van Doren Shaw to redesign the interior. He transformed the tall, narrow Gothic space into Arts-&-Crafts style interior with liberal use of dark oak and plaster reliefs. Artist Frederic Clay Bartlett created murals in the balcony arches and the large "Tree of Life" mural that decorates the front wall of the church. It has nine windows designed by Tiffany.

The Second Presbyterian Church is an arts and architecture masterpiece and a historic and cultural treasure. However it needs massive preservation and restoration efforts. In 2006, "Friends of Historic Second Church", a non-profit organization was established to spearhead the restoration efforts ..
The blog also does a great job of highlighting other architecture throughout the South Loop (ie - Motor Row, Glessner House, the Chicago Firehouse, Michigan Avenue etc.).

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Moving Past the Olympics Debacle: The 2018 or 2022 World Cup

Now that the fervor around the Olympics has subsided (sort of), it's time to move on to the next bidding process, the US bid for the 2018 or 2022 World Cup. From a technical standpoint, the big difference between the Olympics and the World Cup is where the events would be staged. Olympics would have primarily been in Chicago and other Midwestern cities. The World Cup would be staged at various stadiums throughout the country (think cities with big football stadiums).

With that said, it's pretty easy for the US to stage the World Cup since it has numerous stadiums that could easily accommodate the event. Although in our opinion the World Cup wouldn't have the same affect on the city as the Olympics (in terms of infrastructure and constant world attention), it's a lot less risky since we wouldn't need to build new venues.

It's a good thing for Chicago, so hopefully we get this thing. The decision will come in December of 2010...let the new count down begin.

For more information check out the Chicagoist's post on the topic.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Shots Around the Sloop: Progress at Printers Row Park

(Hat Tip: Dr. D!)

Dying Delis? Not in the Sloop

The Sun-Times had an article today titled "The Disappearing Delis" which highlights a trend of Jewish delis that are closing up shop throughout Chicago and the nation. However, the Sloop seems to be bucking this trend as it's home to two delis (which are also featured in the article). Arguably the most popular Jewish Deli in the area is Manny's (1141 S. Jefferson) which also happens to be in our hood. A younger looking Mr. Obama used to frequent Manny's as you can see by this picture on the right with Mayor Daley.

The other and probably not as popular spot is Eleven City Diner (1112 S. Wabash), which is solid in our opinion, but definitely doesn't have the reputation or history of Manny's (and other delis for that matter).

According to the article, the theory causing the death of delis is the unwillingness of younger generations to carry on the family business (which the parent often encourage):
“The original [delis] were the business of immigrants, and there aren’t Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe anymore,” says Sax, 30, a Toronto native who noshed at 150 of the nation’s major and minor delis over the course of three years to research his book, in stores next week.

“A lot of them, the parents got into it ... so that they could give their kids a step up and get them to go to college and become professionals and lawyers and doctors and bankers. And that’s what happened to a lot of them, and then the delis closed down. Because it’s hard to pass that on to someone. And even when you do, when you sell it to someone else or pass it on to a manager, it’s never the same as someone from the family owning it. They might have a love for the food, but it’s not their name on the sign.”

Regardless of whether or not this is actually a proven theory, it seems reasonable to us. With that in mind cherish the deli!

Speaking of delis, let's not forget another favorite, Panozzo's (1303 S. Michigan), which is a great Italian deli in the neighborhood. All the delis bring unique character to the hood and we like that.

One more thing. If you go to Manny's try the Corned us!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

An Interesting Solution for the Vacant Retail in the Sloop

When you walk around the greater South Loop area, you can't help but notice the vision of city planners and developers who dreamed of grand, shinny tall buildings occupied by urbanites who would live, sleep, eat and play in an interesting and dynamic neighborhood. And with all this big development would come numerous retail spots that would cater to the demands of the thousands of new residents flocking to the area.

Fast forward to present day South Loop and you'll find this vision partially realized but marred by the current recession (similar to many places throughout the city, nation and world). To be honest, the people seem to still be flocking to the neighborhood, but that's not the same case for retail within the South Loop.

To be fair, there has been some movement on the retail front lately. 1400 Museum Park, the high rise on the northeast corner of Michigan Avenue and 14th, has just leased out its fifth and final retail spot to Halo, a salon for men.

However, kitty-corner from here is Michigan Avenue Towers II which sits with numerous gigantic windows completely covered up with sales signs advertising available retail space. This isn't an isolated case. Continue down Michigan Avenue and you will see a similar story; huge signs advertising vacant retail.

Although we understand a recession means new businesses aren't popping up as frequently, today we were tipped by AK (a reader of the site) to a story by the NYT that provides an intriguing solution to the problem of vacant retail stores. The story titled, 'Luring Artists to Lend Life to Empty Storefronts' talks about a great concept that is being utilized in NYC that we would love to see applied in the Sloop:
As the recession drags on and storefronts across New York remain empty, commercial landlords are turning to an unlikely new class of tenants: artists, who in flusher times tend to get pushed out rather than lured in. And the price of entry is not deep pockets, but vivid imaginations and splashy exhibits — anything to lend the darkened buildings a sense of life.
It's a fascinating read and an idea that would really help bring a lot of life, culture and vibrancy to a small blemish within our neighborhood.

What do you think of the idea? Any ideas on how we could get developers to consider this? We have a lot of artists in the area (either professionals or students at Columbia etc.) that could take advantage of this.

(Hat Tip AK!)
(Images from New York Times Gallery)

South Loop Lofts on Display During Annual Loft Walk

As you probably know, the South Loop has a wide variety of housing options. Whether it's the fancy high-rise with amazing views or the family friendly townhouse, the South Loop probably has something that caters to your taste. Another popular housing option is loft living. It's definitely prevalent in the Sloop and this Sunday it will be on display at the South Loop Neighbors' annual Loft Walk:
It's one of the South Loop's most anticipated events -- South Loop Neighbors' Loft Walk. It's part history tour; it's part architecture tour; it's part design and home decor tour. There's something for everyone. And if you live in the South Loop it's a great way to meet your neighbors. Now in its 11th year, this popular community happening showcases a unique selection of private residences that are open for public viewing for one day only. This year, it's Sunday, October 18th, 12:00-5:00pm.

Although the loft style doesn't suit everyone, in our opinion it tends to make for some of the most unique homes in the city. The unique floor plans...the exposed brick...the practical use of space...

For more information and background on the event, check out the South Loop Neighbors' website. Loft Walk tickets are $20 in advance (if purchased by Oct. 12) and can be purchased on the SLN website here. Tickets will be $30 after Oct. 12th and on the day of the event and available after 11:00 a.m. at the tour starting point, Dearborn Station, 47 W. Polk Street.

Monday, October 12, 2009

X/O: From Conception to Failure

We've spoken to and heard from a lot of people that were always interested in discussing or getting information about the controversial X/O towers (1712 S. Prairie). As we posted a couple of weeks ago, this project is dead.

However, Micah Maidenberg, at the Chicago Journal, recently posted a link to a compilation of articles that they wrote covering the X/O project. If you were into the debate behind the project (which was controversial for a variety of reason but mainly because of its proposed size and proximity to the historic Prairie Avenue district) it's a fun read:
From a Chicago Journal article in April 2006

Mark Kieras, president of the Prairie District Townhomes—located across the street from the site at 18th and Prairie--opposes the proposal. He says the towers are out of character with the block’s historic feel. Mansions that once belonged to Chicago wealthy powerbrokers line the block: the Marshall Field mansion has been converted to six townhomes; Glessner House, designed by prominent architect H.H. Richardson, and Clarke House are now owned by the city and open to the public as museums.

“In my opinion, it’s completely disrespectful of the Prairie Avenue Historic District,” he said of Giles’ proposal. “He wants to do something different, and I applaud him for that, but the location isn’t necessarily the best location. Beyond that corner, I don’t really care. That’s the corner I’m worried about.”

The Drama Continues: Post Office Sale Falls Through

Not that this is a surprise, but the drama that is the old Chicago Post Office continues:
British developer Bill Davies will not go through with the $40 million purchase of Chicago's behemoth old post office, auctioneer Rick Levin said Saturday.

Davies won the right to buy the building on West Van Buren Street at an auction in late August. The deal was set to close Sept. 30.
Citing disagreements on 'certain key issues' it sounds as if Davies got cold feet. There are numerous directions the government can take from here (ie contacting the runner-up bidder or having another auction). Regardless, this attempt to unload the property for any price necessary looks to have hit a wall.

Stay tuned on this one...

Friday, October 9, 2009

Casino as a New Next Door Neighbor for the Sloop?

Yesterday two aldermen threw out the idea of having a casino and entertainment area built on the Michael Reese land that was bought for the Olympic Village. Although the mayor quickly put the kibosh on that idea today, we were curious to hear what people thought about it.

Generally speaking, a Casino probably isn't the best neighbor for the Sloop as they tend to attract raucous crowds, drunks, degenerate gamblers and potentially sketchy people. However, McCormick place would create a buffer and protect the South Loop from many of these negatives. On the other hand and similar to the Olympic village, a development like this could bring increased funds to the area which might be able to help with infrastructure and neighborhood improvements.

All in all, we're not in favor of the idea, but would love to hear your thoughts.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Free Theater Tickets at Merle Reskin Theater (60 E. Balbo)

Thanks to the Chicagoist, we found a sweet place to score some free Chicago theatre tickets:

There are lots of cheap ways to see theater in Chicago, but free tickets are normally reserved for friends, family and press. Lucky for you, Theatre Communications Group (TCG) thinks you should see shows for free too - at least for this month.

Free Night of Theater 2009 is scheduled to kick-off on October 15 and continue throughout the month. You can find a show here - and before you jump down our throats about how many are sold-out, take note that new blocks of tickets are released every Tuesday. The variety of theaters that are participating is pretty awesome - there are offerings from storefronts, not-quite-storefronts, and big-name companies - so be sure to take advantage.

Act quickly because many shows seem to go fast, however as we're posting this there were still some free tickets to the Friday and Saturday showings of '1001' put on by 'the Theatre School at DePaul University'. The show is in the Sloop at the Merle Reskin Theatre which is located at 60 E. Balbo. Here is the synopsis:
A wild time-bending re-imagining of The Arabian Nights, Jason Grote's 1001 hyperlinks Scheherazade's tales to contemporary Manhattan, in an examination of East and West in the post-9/11 world. Part Monty Python, part magical realist political fantasia, this Chicago premiere by a visionary new playwright takes the audience on a rollicking journey through the precarious world of the 21st Century. For mature audiences.

Chicago Marathon's 26.2 Mile Course Ends in the Sloop Sunday

Crowd control fences are already out on Michigan avenue and either that means Barack Obama just won the presidential race or the annual Chicago Marathon is coming to town (this Sunday 10/11). For those of you who aren't familiar with the race, it's a standard 26.2 mile course that snakes its way through various Chicago neighborhoods and wraps up through our beloved South Loop.

The final mile of the grueling run begins at 18th and Michigan (see image on the right), where runners stammer up to the corner of Michigan Ave and Roosevelt, take a right east on Roosevelt and finally take a left on Columbus where the finish line awaits. For an interactive map of the course check out this link.

Regardless of whether or not you're going to check out the marathon, it's helpful to know that Michigan Avenue (between 35th and Roosevelt) will be closed for the race from 7am to 2:30pm. The same holds true for Roosevelt road (between Michigan Avenue and Columbus dr.).

Good luck to all of you who will be participating! We will be cheering you on because god knows we can't run that much.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Chicago Weekly Looks at the Best of the South Loop for 2009

Chicago Weekly, the independent voice of the University of Chicago, recently highlighted the best of the South Loop in 2009:
Best place to get everything - Maxwell Street Market (S. Des Plaines Ave.)
Best Italian imports - Panozzo's (1303 S. Michigan Ave.)
Best midnight drunk food - White Palace Grill (1159 S. Canal St.)
Best alfresco - Cafe Society (1801 S. Indiana Ave.)
Best-designed café - Little Branch Cafe (1251 S. Prairie Ave.)
Do you agree with these places?

20 Motor Row Condo's to be Auctioned

According to Crain's Chicago Business, 20 condos at the Motor Row Development (2303 S. Michigan) are going to be auctioned off on November 15th at the Hyatt Regency at McCormick Place. The timing of this is interesting as it comes on the heels of the Olympic announcement. Our guess is that the owners bought the property on the cheap and were betting on the Olympics to boost appeal of the area around Cermack. Obviously that didn't happen.

Although this area has potential in terms of investment and development, it's probably going to be a slow process (our guess is at least 5-10+ years). However, as we posted earlier this week, there is progress in a potential green line stop at Cermack and State/Wabash which would bolster the area around Cermack.

For those of you interested in the details of the auction:
Units in the three-building complex at 2303 S. Michigan Ave. are being offered with minimum bids set at roughly half the developer’s asking prices, according to a statement from Sheldon Good & Co., which will conduct the auction next month.

Eight of the 20 units will be sold if the minimum bid price is met, while the ownership will use its discretion on whether to sell the other 12 units, says the project’s developer Paul Zucker, president of Chicago-based Motor Row Development Corp. and the brokerage City Real Estate Inc.

(Hat Tip: ND)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

'Little Fockers' Shooting in the Sloop

Yesterday, we posted about a movie filming in the South Loop and it looks like the movie 'Little Fockers' is shooting in the neighborhood (Hat Tip: Rob SC!). Good ol' Bob DiNero was seen walking around the Agora Statues throughout the day (pictures courtesy of

If you were on Michigan or Wabash, it was tough to miss the trailers and what not. They also shot at the Hilton hotel last night:
According to a post on our facebook group (beforethefilm) for Little Fockers, filming is occurring tonight at the Hilton, which is located at Balbo and Michigan.

If that's not enough in the celebrity sightings category for you, the Tribune has info on where Ben Stiller and Jessica Alba were seen dinning in River North. Ben Stiller is the star of the franchise, but Jessica Alba was brought in for the newest film to boost the already impressive cast (which includes Robert DiNero, Owen Wilson, Barbara Streisand, Dustin Hoffman, Blythe Danner).

Monday, October 5, 2009

Progress for the Cermack Green Line Station?

The Chicago Journal reported last week that steps for the design of a Green Line station at Cermack are progressing:
Jeffrey Busby, general manager for strategic planning at the Chicago Transit Authority, confirmed Tuesday that a contract will be let out for designing an infill CTA station on the Green Line at Cermak Road.
According to Busby they picked this site due to its:
...proximity to McCormick Place. Tax increment financing could pay for the project.
Although we think this would be good for the Sloop, we we're hoping the CTA would start with the 18th street stop first. However, according to the article in the CJ there could still be a stop at 18th eventually:
The choice “doesn’t preclude something at 18th,” Busby said.
The good news is that if the circle line progresses, there will be a stop at 18th eventually. Here is a link to our coverage about the circle line public meetings last week. The Chicago Journal also had an informative piece on the subject last week.

(Hat Tip to James C!)

Movie Shooting at Agora Statues?

This morning we noticed some form of movie or commercial production at the Agora statues at Roosevelt and Michigan Avenue. Does anyone know what's shooting there? It looked like a relatively big production.

The Future of Mass Transit for the Region

A fun read on the Chicago Sun-Times for those of you who are into mass transit. The article isn't the most visionary expression of the future, but outlines some of the possible areas of improvement for the regions mass transit.

It does not address the South Loop specifically, however any of these changes would indirectly affect us.

Olympic Hangover Subsides

It was a shocking way to lead into the weekend, but the sting from Chicago's dismissal in the first round of the IOC 2016 Olympic host city voting has passed. We were all for the bid since it would have generated massive amounts of federal funds for improved infrastructure and transit, but as Mayor Daley simply said, "You go on with your life."

The Chicagoist had a post titled "Olympocalypse: What Went Wrong?" which was a good summary with links to various issues that could have factored into the Olympic loss.

For the record, here is our poll leading up to the Olympics:

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Issues With Old Post Office Sale

If you missed it earlier this week, Bill Davies, the man who won the auction for the building of the Old Chicago Post Office, did not close on the deal. Although the deal is not dead:
A statement from the company Davies is using for his bid cited disagreement with the seller over "certain key issues" and said it "decided to postpone its acquisition."
This property has had many issues with development and it looks like the saga will continue.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Circle Line Well Thought Out but Needs Funding

This past week, the CTA hosted three public meetings to showcase 'Screen 3' of the Circle Line analysis. Coming out of these meetings, the strategic committee responsible for the analysis will recommend a 'locally preferred option' which is what hopefully will get built. Assuming funding is found the lines could be ready by 2016. Although the circle line wasn't tied directly to the Olympics, today's announcement doesn't help the cause. Funding is still possible, but many (including us) felt as if this would be a done deal if Chicago won the Olympics (sigh).

We went to the meeting in Bucktown on Tuesday and was thoroughly impressed with the entire event. The CTA gets thrown under the bus often, but in this instance the professionalism of the presenters and their work was truly refreshing.

In previous public Screens ('Screen 1' which happened in May of 2006 and 'Screen 2' which happened in Sept of 2006), the public asked for the CTA to analyse additional options that would extend the circle line further from the loop. Part of those findings are included within the presentation here.

Based on the CTA's analysis, the image below shows their long term plan for the Circle Line. This plan utilizes 'heavy rail transit' which is what our current El system consists of:

Phase 1
The yellow line in the image above is what the CTA calls their 'locally preferred option'. The good news for the Sloop is that this addresses the south portion of the concept and would service our neighborhood. The CTA estimates that the creation of this (with new stations & tracks) would be $1.1Billion (which is inflated for the date of expenditure).

The pale yellow circle at the northwest portion of the image above would not be funded in this option, but would hopefully be addressed at a later date when funds are available. The thinking is that it would be better to start the project instead of waiting for all the funds to be available at once.

During the meeting the CTA mentioned that the northwest side of the circle line concept is much more challenging in terms of engineering and costs. If they were to do the entire circle line project it would cost approximately $3-4.5 Billion.

2016 Goal?
Medill had an article earlier this week that the Circle Line is still shooting to be done by 2016 regardless of the Olympics. Would the Olympics have expedited the plan? Probably, but now we don't have that date as a driving force (another sigh). Regardless, if the CTA can gain approval from the federal government to help with funding, then it still is possible this could get done by 2016, however we're not holding our breath.

For more documents from the meeting click here for the presentation and here for the boards.

Also, you can submit questions/concerns to the CTA until October 30th. Here is the link to the pdf for those.

Roosevelt Collection Video from YoChicago

Roosevelt Collection looks to be progressing well. We walked around the outside a couple of weeks ago, but today YoChicago has a new video taking a peak inside as well as a view from a balcony on the fourth floor:

Chicago Only Got 18 Out of 94 Votes

Amazingly, it seems as if Chicago never really had a chance in the race. The voting numbers have finally come out:
Chicago was eliminated in the first round of the voting and Tokyo went out in the second round. For Chicago, it wasn't that close: The first-round vote totals showed Madrid with 28, Rio 26, Tokyo 22, and Chicago 18. In the second round, it was Rio 46, Madrid 29, and Tokyo 20, and in the last round, it was Rio 66 and Madrid 32.
To sum up:
"We didn't have a natural constituency," said veteran USOC official and IOC member Bob Ctvrtlik. While Latin American countries presumably voted for winner Rio de Janeiro, Asian countries for Tokyo and many European ones for Madrid, only one other North American country besides the U.S. has a vote on the IOC: Canada.

The weird thing is that somehow Tokyo lost two votes in the second round. That means a couple people (at least) that voted for Tokyo in the first round decided to vote for a different city in the second round. Seems strange...could a Rio or Madrid supporter vote for Tokyo in the first round to purposefully knock Chicago out? Regardless it doesn't matter, just some food for thought.

Rio Proves Victorious

As we're sure most of you know by now, Rio De Janeiro has won the vote to host the 2016 Olympics. At the end of the day the fact that South America has never hosted the Olympics probably proved to be the tipping point in the race. It's a powerful argument. Congrats to them.

Although we are disappointed by this news, we take solace in the work and vision of Chicago's team. We don't claim to be Olympic historians, but upon reading thousands of articles about past Olympic plans and the Olympic movement, we feel as if Chicago's plan was still excellent.

We will continue to comb through the massive amount of coverage and try to bring you interesting tidbits and opinions that we read and hear. The 2016 decision is made, but the discourse will continue.

Obama Delivers for Chicago 2016

So we stayed up to watch Chicago's presentation and one thing is clear, the Obama's delivered for Chicago 2016. Overall the presentation was fine, but didn't really move us. Here is some good coverage live blogging from Chicagoist.

We will come back for more thoughts later.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Where to Find Halloween Costumes in the South Loop?

It's October 1st and that means Halloween is only a few weeks away. If you're like us, you love to celebrate this holiday and truly appreciate great costumes. If you're the creative type, we've found success by going to Michael's in the Southgate Market (1101 S. Canal) and building our own costumes. If that's to much work, we've noticed that a pop-up Halloween store moved into the building on the southwest corner of Wabash and 9th street.

We've been poking around the internets as well and found this pretty sweet costume for Kenny F***ing Powers (here is a link to the website):

Here is the best of Kenny Powers if you don't know:

This Weekend in the Sloop

Although the buzz this weekend will probably be centered around whether or not Chicago gets the Olympic bid, life in the city goes on...

Anytime the Bears have a home game you can expect a frenzied atmosphere in our neck of the woods. This Sunday will be the Bears second regular season home game as they look to beat up on a division rival, the Detroit Lions. If you're not an NFL fan, the Detroit Lions earned the dubious honor of going 0-16 last year. They also lost their first two games this season, but finally ended their losing streak by beating the Washington Redskins last week. Let's hope the Bears can take care of business and beat this bad team. The game kicks-off at noon on Sunday, but expect many tailgaters to arrive early to enjoy a brisk, but excellent day for football in the Sloop.

If football ain't your cup of tea, maybe you should head on over to the Petrillo Music Shell and surrounding area for the annual Chicago Country Music Festival. This year marks the first time the event will be held in Grant Park. Admission is free and activities start Saturday morning (11am on 10/3) and conclude Sunday evening (9:30pm on 10/4). Headliners are Miranda Lambert (who is beautifully staring into the distance on the left) and John Rich from the popular duo Big & Rich.

The Prairie District Neighborhood Alliance continues its Meet Me At the Movies series with a showing of the classic, Casablanca. The movie starts at 6:30pm on Friday (10/2) at the Sherwood Music Conservatory (1312 S. Michigan Avenue). Click here for more info and to RSVP.

Finally, a new art show titled INDIE/SOUTH INDIE opens in the South Loop this Saturday at 1900 S. Prairie. The show consists of independent artists who live and work in the South Loop area. On display will be paintings, prints, photography and other works. The show will continue at the Prairie Avenue Gallery on Saturdays and Sundays through November 15.

Comments on Sloopin

Dear Sloopers,

We truly appreciate your comments and relish the opportunity to engage with our readers. Our main goal is to provide updates, opinions and relevant information and one of the main ways we do this is by communicating with readers.

However, recently we had a couple people post some comments that had to be moderated. Please keep the discourse on Sloopin civil and respectful. Avoid using hateful comments that insight fear, unjustly categorize and either claim or allude to unlawful actions. If we deem that your comments step over this line we will erase them accordingly.

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Chicagoist's Defense of the Olympics

We're in favor of the Olympics, but realize many of the concerns people have. However, similar to this solid post on the Chicagoist today, we feel as if the net result of the Olympics would be positive for Chicago:
We're not oblivious to the financial concerns, worries of corruption and suspicion of sweetheart deals for insiders that seem to be the basis for most objections -- but we believe that more serious examinations of the finances prove a net positive for the city. The vast majority of the funds to pay for the games are dollars the city wouldn’t see otherwise - to suggest that they city is spending dollars on venues that it could otherwise spend on schools, clinics, etc. isn’t really the case. On the other hand, additional spending means more tax revenues that the city can spend on other services.

Halo Coming to 1351 S. Michigan

Last week we noticed some activity in the last remaining retail space within the 1351 S. Michigan building (between Homemade Pizza Co. and Entourage Man). Thanks to two readers it was discovered that a salon and spa that caters to men called Halo plans to open up shop this month.

The website says it opens tomorrow (10/2), but after strolling by it last night it doesn't look possible as a lot of work still needs to be done. We have a couple of friends who have been to other Halo locations throughout the city and seem to like it.

(Hat Tip to JDZimm and Brad!)