Monday, August 31, 2009
We recently drove down Cermack past the Harold Ickes buildings and the wrecking ball is in full force. The building at the corner of Cermack and State looks to be the first one coming down as about a quarter of the building has been knocked down as of yesterday.
And in case you didn't hear, two weeks ago a man working on the demolition crew at the site died after falling from the seventh story.
(image from ABC 7 news)
No Games Chicago today issued its own review of the Civic Federation’s review of the 2016 Committee’s finances. “What we’ve got here is the sheep paying the foxes to audit the wolves” said No Games organizer Tom Tresser. “There are so many conflicts of interest in the inception, staffing and execution of this report as to make it virtually toothless.” Nevertheless, despite the many flaws in the reporting process, the document still reveals many new reasons for Chicagoans to be concerned about the 2016 bid process and its authors.We just wanted to show you some of the places to look if you're questioning the legitimacy of the report.
Although the entire post is a good read, a specific section stuck out in our mind because it's something that has always perplexed us. The Metra entrance at the corner of Van Burren and Michigan looks like it's straight up out of an amusement park. It's on the boundary of the sloop and every time we go by it we stop a scratch our heads. It doesn't fit in with the setting and it's always been a mystery as to why this stop is different then all the other ones.
Anyway, thanks to this post, we have a little more background as to why this stop is the way it is:
Looking elsewhere, of course, the place to look for iconic subway entrances is Paris with its Hector Guimard designed metro entrances. They define the word classic in this space:So the mystery is solved! This out of place Metra stop was actually a replica gift given from Paris to Chicago.
These work in Paris not just because they are excellent designs but because, in a very real way, the embody the essence of Paris. They capture its romance and history. To walk past one of these is to be transported back to the Belle Epoque. Sundered from its native setting, these could easily end up looking cheesy.
I really hate to admit this, but Chicago actually has a clone of this on its Metra system. Here's the entrance to an underpass at Van Buren St. Station:
Paris gives out replicas of these to cities around the world, and I believe this was one such gift. Even so, this is the sort of thing that would, if done in say Cleveland, make a Chicagoan snicker.
I am happy to provide this update on the Printer's Row Park. The water retention system is near complete and this green space is progressing on schedule.Good news!
Look for the groundbreaking ceremony to take place in late October!
Saturday, August 29, 2009
“We’re pretty much tapped out in Chicago,” chef/partner Scott Harrison says. “Maybe [we'll open in] the South Loop, maybe a small one in River North…besides that, we’ve covered the 100-mile radius.”We would love one of these restaurants to open in the South Loop...always a fan of solid Italian.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
(Tribune photo by Antonio Perez / July 8, 2009)
Well the audit is done and the group said:
...if Chicago 2016 sticks to its plan to buy additional insurance, the extra coverage would create "an effective safety net" to protect taxpayers in the event of problems such as cancellation of the Games, natural disasters or "loss of development financing."This is a big win for the bid team as it's hard to imagine any alderman fighting the Olympic bid now. However, there are still some issue that the auditors warned about such as oversight from the aldermen:
The report also said it was critical for the City Council to use its oversight powers to monitor the city's Olympic plans. But that appears to miss the political reality of City Hall, where aldermen routinely have followed Daley's lead and rarely challenge his major plans.And probably the riskiest component in our opinion is the plan for the Olympic Village since there continues to be a lot of volatility within the current real estate market:
Among the greatest risks in the Olympic plan is the impact that a changing real estate market could have on the financing of the billion dollar Olympic Village, according to the report. To address that risk, the Olympic committee's plan calls for multiple developers to spread the financial burden in addition to the proposed insurance policies.
Afterwards they will be hosting a wrap party just around the corner at Opera (1301 S. Wabash). Dinner is $15 and includes:
Passed appetisers and buffet style entres: 5 spiced ribs, Assortment of Satays (kung poa beef, Classic chicken Sayay, Golden shrimp) Shrimp Gyoza (Pot sticker) Singapore Noodles,Duch Chow Fun and Pork Fried Rice and non-alcoholic drinks included. Full bar available.If you're not familiar with the movie here is the classic trailer:
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Should be interesting to see who has the patience to take on this massive building and project.
This is where the old boutique Laughing Iguana used to be until it closed last year.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
We found five places in the sloop:
- :32 - "sail the ship" - 900 S. Wabash block - Green/Orange line
- :33 - drum players - 1020 S. Wabash - Green/Orange line
- :38 - "skip the rope" - 800 S. Wabash block - Green/Orange line
- :39 - drum players on Orange line south of Roosevelt stop
- :50 - "all together" - 1300 S. Wabash block - Green/Orange line
- :25 - "E, F, G, H, eye" - Cullerton and Wabash - Green/Orange line
Monday, August 24, 2009
“People are worried about their jobs,” says Greg Mutz, CEO of Amli Residential Partners LLC, a Chicago-based apartment owner. “When you’re in that kind of mind-set, you don’t want to be illiquid, and you want to have flexibility.”
The apartment market is “not as bad as I thought it would be,” he says.
Amli completed construction last year on a 440-unit building at 900 S. Clark St. While the high-rise is more than 80% leased, it faces competition from other new buildings in the South Loop, where developers have been especially busy.
Compounding the supply problem, Chicago-based developer Centrum Properties Inc. recently decided to convert a new 342-unit condo project at Roosevelt Road and Clark Street into apartments.
Maybe you will recognize:
The Stevens Hotel (now the Hilton), the largest in the world, containing three thousand hotel roomsOr maybe:
Among the other architectural masterpieces of the city are the Shedd Aquarium, the Chicago Museum of Natural History, formerly known as the Field Museum, and Soldier Field stadium built in the classic tradition of ancient Greek and Roman architecture.
My how the things have changed...
Friday, August 21, 2009
The commission's unanimous vote is the final action and makes the document official city policy. No City Council action is required because no law was made. While the document includes cost estimates and plans for raising the money, it offers no funding guarantee. Individual projects may have to be deferred for years or may never happen.Although we imagine that some of the projects will happen by 2020, it's almost 100% certain that all of them won't. Many people feel that the Olympics are the wild card. If Chicago gets the Olympics then some of the projects will likely get the green light quicker.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
The Prairie Avenue Historic district is just one of the many spots that are called out on the new historic signs in the neighborhood. We've seen one sign on the east sidewalk by the corner of Roosevelt and Michigan and the another one on the west sidewalk close to the corner of Cermack and Michigan. We imagine there are some others dotted around the neighborhood as well.
Although the signs aren't spectacular, they are nice and informative for people not familiar with the areas rich history. Other buildings highlighted on the signs include Chess Records, Motor Row, the evolution of Central Station, St. Luke's Hospital, the Lexington Hotel, Second Presbyterian Landmark Church.
Not spectacular, but it's a nice touch to make the neighborhood's history a little more prominent.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Judging from a quote by Adrian Guerra, managing director of Pressure Point’s parent company, the studio isn't going anywhere:
“We’re not going anywhere,” Mr. Guerra said. “They’re not taking our property. People are still making music here.”For those of you not familiar with the location or facility here is a youtube video:
Here is a shot from Roosevelt looking in the entrance to the complex:
It looks pretty nice in our opinion, however we're curious how they plan on promoting all the retail stores within the courtyard? Do you think they will put the logos on the side of the building next to the Roosevelt Collection logo (in the picture above)?
Monday, August 17, 2009
The reason this became an issue for the Chicago 2016 Olympic big is because any disagreement between the IOC and USOC could cause IOC voting members to vote against Chicago for the 2016 games (it's a very political process as we've stated before). Again, the relations between the two parties threatened to derail the Chicago big, but luckily for Chicago the issue has seemed to be defused.
On Saturday, Probst met in Berlin with the I.O.C. president, Jacques Rogge, to discuss the U.S. Olympic Network.
“We want to try to get to the point where we’ve addressed all their issues and concerns as quickly as possible,” Probst said.The I.O.C. criticized the U.S.O.C. last month for “unilaterally” announcing the start of the TV network on July 8, saying it raised complex legal questions and could jeopardize relations with NBC, the Olympic broadcaster.
Finally, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil has confirmed that he will be in Copenhagen in early October to lobby for his country (as will the King of Spain. And Japan's crown prince). Chicago is the only bid that still hasn't confirmed who will be attending Copenhagen on their behalf. The big draw is obviously President Obama who has been rumored to attend. As we've stated before, if Obama shows up we think Chicago is a lock. If not, it's doubtful Chicago will win in our opinion (as simple and as silly as that may seem).
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Here is the dedication plaque:
Hat Tip to DT for the great pictures!
Friday, August 14, 2009
Late on Monday night we were coming home and saw a relatively large crew painting, polishing and power scrubbing the entire station. It's nice to see them take care of the stop, hopefully this one doesn't get neglected like so many others.
However, we still have one gripe and it has to do with something we call the 'pigeon' exit. For those of you who are not familiar it's the exit from the Green and Orange line platform. It lets you out on the South side of Roosevelt and you can't help but notice the infestation of pigeons. If you don't notice the dead pigeons rotting on top of the roof as you walk down the stairs of the exit, you have to notice the smell. Then once you step outside onto the street you're tip toeing around pigeon poop and dodging low flying pigeons that might as well land on your head.
Wow it's disgusting...we really wish they could do something about this nastiness!
SCREEN. The Bicycle Film Festival at Columbia College celebrates the two-wheeler in all kinds of movies. Check out "WHERE ARE YOU GO," a film about the Tour d'Afrique, one of the world's longest cycling races. Tour Director Shanny Hill will be available for a post-showing Q&A. Aug. 14, 7 p.m. Tickets are $10. 1104 S. Wabash Ave., 8th Floor, www.bicyclefilmfestival.com. Watch the trailer.(Image from Crains)
Thursday, August 13, 2009
We went by the place today and it looks pretty nice. Also wanted to say thanks to YV for sending us info on this:
Opens August 14th at 6:30 am at the 1720 S Michigan building (retail space furthest south)Interestingly enough there is also a recently opened convience store about a block north of this on the east side of Michigan Ave called Green Leaf Market. It will be interesting to see if there is enough demand for both of these stores.
Your local source for:
Owned and operated by South Loop residents. When you come in ask about our upcoming grand opening celebration.
- freshly brewed coffee
- pastries baked daily
- convenience and grocery items
- a full line deli
- beer, wine, and spirits
- seating area with WiFi
- much more...
We didn't know what to expect, but coming in we've been pretty critical of the plan since this area is already nice. We've read articles from Blair Kamin and a press release from the Grant Park Conservancy (GPC) and initially agreed with them that this money ($5 million) would be better spent on other projects.
The project the GPC is lobbying for is updating the crossing at Queens Landing (which is the place where lake Michigan meets Buckingham Fountain). The image on the right is an illustration of what could be created (for about $25-$35+ million).
So the stage for the meeting was set and it was clear that most people in the audience weren't in favor of the winning Burnham Memorial plan at Museum Campus. Some of the highlights and valid points against the plan from the audience were:
- It's already a nice spot and the funds could be used in a better place (ie Queen's Landing)
- It's putting up two walls that block the beautiful view of the city
- It's taking away additional green space by paving over a nice lawn
Although we still think Queen's Landing is an important public initiative it really should be viewed in a separate light. We commend the GPC for bringing this issue to light, however we think this project will have to wait until we know whether or not we get the Olympics. If we get the Olympics, this project will get done. Maybe England will do it for Chicago 2016 as a present from the London 2012 Olympics...
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
11th Street underpass to the Museum CampusThis underpass helps create a five-way intersection that can be hazardous because southbound cyclists on the trail are heading downhill. “People are coming down here and gathering speed, and people crossing the path aren’t expecting that traffic,” Warren says.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
The Grant Park Conservancy will hear from architect David Woodhouse, designer of the winning competition entry for the Burnham Memorial at the Museum Campus. The meeting is Tuesday, August 11, at 6:30 p.m. in the Daley Bicentennial Plaza Fieldhouse, 337 E. Randolph ( just east of Columbus Drive).For more background on this topic check out some of our previous posts.
During the long days, hanging out, drinking and seeing and being seen all seemed to take priority over the music, though certainly the sounds remained the nominal reason for the giant party. But the order of priorities, which seem skewed to the hardcore music lover, explained why the casual Lollapalooza-goer was so willing to embrace even mediocre acts and this year’s generally lackluster roster of headlining stars.To be honest, that's fine by us. Don't get us wrong, it's an amazing thing to see so many great bands so close to our neighborhood but the star of Lollapalooza really is Grant Park. It's an amazing space that provides a truly unique experience. Although bands are known to disingenuously flatter the city they're performing in it seemed like most of them were sincerely in awe of the beautiful park and skyline that makes Downtown Chicago so special (at least half of the shows we saw referenced this).
We realize that many people hate the festival (as shown by our informal poll), but to us that's the beauty of a dynamic city. The greater Grant Park area really does cater to everybody. Whether it's Lollapalooza, Blues Fest, Obama's Election Night Speech, The Chicago Marathon, Taste of Chicago, Movies in the Park, the numerous charity walks throughout the park, Dancing in the Park it's an amazing and versatile place (and that's probably just the tip of the iceberg).
Anyway, enough of us gushing over the park...simply put it's a great place. With that said, if Chicago ends up getting the Olympics, we can only imagine how Grant Park will serve this historic event. It truly could be an amazing and epic event for the city of Chicago.
Monday, August 10, 2009
The Shrine's big week: No other club is pulling in big name hip-hop artists like The Shrine. In its first three months, the South Loop venue has brought in Slick Rick, Rakim, Ne-Yo and Talib Kweli. This past week, Ludacris and Sean Paul stopped by.If you're like us and have never been, maybe this video will help you get a sense of what a live concert at The Shrine is like:
I'm a fan of Ludacris' song "Undisputed," so I asked him why he had boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. make a cameo on the track
"Rap is real competitive just the same way boxing is," said Ludacris. "We always talk about taking other rappers out. That being said, I feel like I'm the best rapper. I wanted to get the best boxer in the game [for the song]."
Although details (such as name, concept etc) have not been confirmed we're guessing that the restaurant will open at the Southwest corner of Michigan and Roosevelt. This is a prime spot and even has a small outdoor patio that could potentially be a nice spot for enjoying some food and/or drinks (however wind and noise from the road could make it a bad spot as well).
If we're not mistaken, Mayor Daley used this commercial space as the headquarters for his last election but it has been vacant for well over a year (at least).
We will keep you posted if we hear/read anything else.
However, this Saturday the park is going to be renamed "Battle of Fort Dearborn Park" to commemorate the battle:
Please join us on Saturday, August 15, 2009 from 10-11am for this important event that is almost 200 years in the making. Native Americans, battle descendants, War of 1812 reenactors, historians, National Guardsmen, Park District representatives, residents of the Prairie District Neighborhood Alliance and 2nd Ward Alderman Robert W. Fioretti will assemble to dedicate and name the park, "Battle of Fort Dearborn Park," and to place an historic marker which will commemorate the site for its significance in Chicago's early history.Should be interesting and somewhat educational. For more background check out the Chicago Journal's recent piece on the renaming.
Robert Vanecko and his company have a contract to buy what's now the South Loop headquarters of the National Association of Letter Carriers at 1411 S. Michigan, which they plan to knock down and replace with a 220-unit apartment building.For those unfamiliar with the exact location it's right next to The Chicago Firehouse restaurant.
(image from Chicago Architecture Info)
Saturday, August 8, 2009
The Lofts at Roosevelt Collection, a 342-unit development originally slated as condos, will be converted into rental apartments, the developer said Friday.The good news is that the theater is still set to open in the November time frame.
Centrum Properties Inc., bowing to continued pressure in the condo market and particularly in the South Loop, said apartments in the building at Clark Street and Roosevelt Road would be available Sept. 1.
Friday, August 7, 2009
Also, Greg Kot does a pretty good job of covering the festival live, so follow it there.
We will be checking in occasionally this weekend, so stay tuned.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
The Chicagoist provides some great background on Rudresh Mahanthappa:
Success has come in a torrent for Rudresh Mahanthappa since he released "Kinsmen" almost a year ago. The album was declared one of the best of 2008 by folks from the New York Times, NPR, the Washington Post, Rolling Stone, the Village Voice, the Boston Globe...well, you get the idea.Here is a clip of him and a band:
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
We've read that people don't like Opera much, but in our opinion it's not that bad. Definitely not in the top two though.
One more comment about the 1300 block of Wabash. It looks like the signs for the stalled development at 1349 S Wabash have come down. We're not 100% sure if this is dead, but it doesn't look promising. Here is a link to an old YoChicago post about this development.
Chairlift: Originally formed in Boulder, CO, this now Brooklyn-based trio was originally formed to create music for haunted houses. When the band members discovered that they had more to offer than spooky tunes, the band began crafting its avant-pop sound and booking NYC gigs with the likes of then fellow up-and-comers MGMT.Out of these 5, Santigold and Hey Champ sound promising to us. However, Santigold is pretty big already so not sure we would classify her as 'under the radar'...this one sound familiar? Think Bud Light Lime:
Joe Pug: This folk singer may be new on the scene, but he tops the local must-see list. At a mere 24 years old, Pug's lyrics convey wisdom well beyond his years, as he fashions lyrics that tug at your heart strings with forceful conviction. With palpable influences like Bob Dylan and John Prine, Pug's writing suggests both heartache and elation, nostalgia and prospect. His lyrics speak to the masses, as all good Folk music should. Pug's distinctive voice, poetic lyrics and loyal harmonica create the perfect Folk trifecta.
Blind Pilot: This Portland duo offers well-crafted, folksy Americana tunes with lulling melodies. Their debut album, 2008's Rounds and a Sound, led to a world tour supporting the likes of vets such as the Counting Crows and Decemberists. Blind Pilot proves that a band can craft beautiful music despite having only two members.Hey Champ: These local boys (Rockford, IL) will introduce their electronic-pop sound at this year's festival. The trio lucked out last year when Lupe Fiasco asked them to join him on his national tour. Catchy electro-rock songs like "Cold Dust Girl" are sure to get you moving.
Santigold: This Wesleyan-educated Philadelphian songwriter has compiled an impressive musical resume as of late. Not only has she collaborated with N.E.R.D., The Strokes, and Kanye West, earned co-writing credits for Ashlee Simpson and served as tour support for M.I.A., Bjork, Jay-Z, and Coldplay, but the singer has also created a well-respected musical persona. Most often compared to M.I.A. or the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Santigold delivers an energetic live performances, backed by catchy pop beats.
Monday, August 3, 2009
Today, the Chicago Tribune reports that Sam's Wines will be closing their recently opened mega store at the corner of Roosevelt and Wabash. In our opinion this store is beautiful and every time we've been it actually seemed pretty busy. CEO, Richard DiStasio claims that the closing is:
"Due to the slower than anticipated development of the South Loop area, we were forced to cease operations at that location,"Not sure we believe that, but that's besides the point. Sam's has been having some issues from a corporate standpoint and from what we've recently read the family who created the business sold out. Regardless, this is probably good news for some of the local wine stores like Wine Styles and South Loop Wine Cellar.
Finally, Dairy Queen just opened up on the northwest corner of Congress and Wabash. Although we really like dilly bars, we're not that excited about this one.
(Hat Tip: JC)
Labor tensions are flaring at the Blackstone Hotel just as union leaders and local hotel owners prepare to negotiate a new contract for about 6,500 workers at 30 Chicago-area hotels where the current pact expires at the end of this month.Most people are familiar with the long standing strike at the Congress hotel, but this is the first we've heard about issues at Blackstone. Regardless, this strike might not lead to a picket line but it's still could be a PR issue for the Olympic bid:
Both sides, however, may feel pressure to avoid a high-profile, protracted fight that could send convention business to other cities. A hotel labor brawl also would be a public-relations setback for Mayor Richard M. Daley's 2016 Olympics bid, with the final decision on a host city coming in early October. Union picketers have been marching in front of another Michigan Avenue hotel, the Congress Plaza, since 2003.(photo from chicagobusiness.com)