2nd Ward Christmas Toy Drive
Christmas is just around the corner!
Alderman Bob Fioretti is conducting his annual 2nd Ward Toy Drive.
If your family or your business would like to join in making Christmas a brighter holiday for less fortunate children please call our office, 312-263-9273, for information on how to donate toys or time.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Saturday, November 28, 2009
More interesting pieces from the article:
The restoration of the $4 million red brick edifice at 650 S. Clark St. built in 1914 follows the church's plan of acquiring and restoring historic structures that embody a city's aesthetic.
More than 70 buildings have been acquired around the globe as part of a multimillion dollar expansion program. More than two dozen churches are set to open in the U.S. before the end of next year.
In Chicago, the 50,212 square feet of space will accommodate worship, courses, spiritual counseling known as auditing, community outreach and church administration.
"That's one of the reasons we need such a large space," said the Rev. Jesse Wells, an ordained Scientology minister, "to accommodate all the activities."
And here is a picture from Google Maps of the building:
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Although some residents have voiced displeasure with the growth around these universities and colleges, we feel that they're good for the neighborhood in various ways. One way that was recently validated by a report commissioned by the Chicago Loop Alliance was spending:
Twenty-four higher education institutions in Chicago’s Loop, through their employees, students and own expenditures, generate more than $4 billion in regional economic activity annually, including at least $60 million in student retail purchases, according to the 2009 Higher Education Economic Impact Report and Student Survey Update released Nov. 23.Although this area was defined as the Chicago River on the north and west, the study also includes parts of the South Loop as it extends south to Roosevelt and east to Lake Shore Drive. Love them or hate them, students are an important part of our neighborhood. Without them our retail situation would most certainly be different (and probably much worse).
Commissioned by the Chicago Loop Alliance ( CLA ), with student survey data compiled by researchers at DePaul, the study shows that the Loop’s higher education sector is a vital economic engine that contributes to the growth and overall health of the economy in the Chicago region. The findings update and expand upon research released by CLA last June and in 2004.
With that in mind it's a good sign that Roosevelt University just announced that it will move forward with a new tower on the 400 block of South Wabash Avenue (see old Sloopin post on this subject). The building will serve a variety of purposes for the University and is currently planned to open in 2012. This is a block north of what we consider the Sloop, but regardless it will still impact the area:
It's definitely an interesting building.
Construction on the 32-story, $110 million building is set to begin in February on the site of the old Herman Crown Center in the 400 block of South Wabash Avenue. The groundbreaking will begin once demolition of the old building is complete, with the center itself slated to open in January 2012, officials said.
The state-of-the-art building, which will house classrooms, laboratories, a student recreation center and residence suites for more than 600 students, will be the university's first newly constructed building in the school's history, officials said.
The 469-foot-tall building will also be constructed as a "green" building and showcase a glass exterior on three sides, drawing in natural light and cutting energy costs. The new building, school officials said, would be the sixth-largest university building in the world and second in the U.S. behind the University of Pittsburgh's Cathedral of Learning.
In other higher education development, Columbia College's media production center (at 16th and State) looks to be nearing completion. Although we don't have a picture of the actual site, you will have to take our word for it...it's also an interesting building. Here is a sketch of how it is supposed to look. Although we didn't see it illuminated like the picture below, it looks very similar in our opinion:
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
The chief executive officer won his post after raising campaign cash for disgraced Gov. Rod Blagojevich. The just-departed human resources director owed her job to a powerful state senator. Other top executives have long ties to Mayor Richard M. Daley's political machine.Since it's a neighbor of Sloop and potentially could be a driving force behind growth in our neighborhood we thought some people might be interested in reading about it. It's been a brutal year for the McPier agency and the article doesn't make it sound like it's getting any better.
That's what clout looks like at the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, known as McPier, a little-understood government entity that operates the city's primary convention venue, the vast McCormick Place complex; the adjacent McCormick Hyatt Regency Hotel, and the lakefront tourist center Navy Pier.
(image from chicagobusiness.com)
Terry specifically calls out the diverse wait staff and says that's why he likes the place:
Although it's a nice thought, we would argue that many of the city's restaurants also have diverse wait staffs, just not very diverse clientele. For a highly segregated city, the South Loop in tends to be pretty diverse. Maybe that was the point he was going for...
For 70 years, the DeMilio-Thomas family has owned and operated Blackie's restaurant and bar at the corner of Clark and Polk. I love the apple sauce pancakes, but it's the diverse and longtime staff, which includes African Americans, Latinos and Italian Americans, that keeps me coming back.
It is a snapshot of what the rest of the city should be like.
Anyway, back to the article. It provides a nice history of the joint and even drops some names of the famous celebrities that have graced the place over the years:
Blackie's is across the street from the old Dearborn train station. During the 1940s and 1950s, there was no telling who you might run into having a beer at Blackie's. Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., the Harlem Globetrotters, Rocky Marciano, Sam Cooke and Lena Horne were just a few of the celebrities who ate and drank there on their way in or out of town on the Santa Fe Super Chief.
The Three Stooges and the Marx Brothers also spent time in Blackie's. One night, the Stooges and the Marx boys got into a food fight when one side criticized the other's comedic skills.
"It was right over there near the window,'' Jeffrey says, pointing behind. "I can't remember who my grandfather said started it.''
(Hat Tip: SC!)
Monday, November 23, 2009
Cameras (red-light cameras at intersections) are said to reduce accidents, but collision records compiled by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) indicate that accidents increased at many city intersections the year after red-light cameras were installed. In fact slightly more intersections saw an increase than a decrease, the data show.
The city tells a very different story. Crash statistics compiled by the city reflect broad success in reducing accidents with cameras, and the city could not explain why the numbers are so different.
Overall the article claims that nearly 60 percent of intersections with red-light cameras had an increase in accidents based on the following analysis:
With or without cameras accident totals fluctuate year to year at every intersection. For that reason the Tribune analysis of accident trends treated crash numbers that rose or fell less than 10 percent as essentially unchanged.
The read from the state numbers is this: Although some Chicago intersections indeed appear to benefit from the presence of cameras, nearly 60 percent do not.
So what about the Sloop? As of now only the State and Roosevelt intersection has statistics to look at:
So based off of IDOT's information, the Tribune would classify this South Loop intersection as one where the presence of red-light cameras caused more accidents. The city's numbers would prove the opposite. Judge for yourself.
The one thing these numbers don't take into account is increased traffic. Although we're not 100% sure, we assume the amount of traffic in the South Loop (particularly at this intersection) has increased from 2005 to 2008.
For more information specific to other intersection check out this Chicago Tribune link.
There are new “pay to park” kiosks along 18th Street. I noticed that formerly free street parking had been converted to metered parking during the week ending 11/13/09. The formerly free spaces are on the south side of 18th between Wabash and Michigan and the north and south sides of 18th between Wabash and State. There could have been others, but these are the stretches that I noticed.
As a traveling consultant, I often get stuck with rental cars over the weekend. I was infuriated last Friday when I tried to park in the formerly free spaces that I used to count on. Of course, the still-free parking on the south side of 18th between State and Clark, was packed with cars that could not park in newly metered spaces. I had to park west of Clark. Granted, this probably isn’t the worst parking situation in the city, but knowing that Chicago is not even benefiting from these really makes me angry. I did a quick search of the Internet, but I couldn’t find a map delineating free and metered stretches in the South Loop. Do you know if one exists?
We didn't have much luck finding a map either, does anyone know if one exists?
(Hat Tip to Jay for the email and pic!)
Friday, November 20, 2009
On Tuesday night, park district planners and its contractors shopped four different concepts for a future iteration of Northerly, culling feedback from hundreds of residents in a three-hour session downtown.Since our neighborhood is the closest to the land (and yes we consider this in the Sloop) we're very interested to see how, when and if any of this actually happens. We reference New York a lot on this blog, because we're a big fan of their public spaces (especially Central Park). We love the beauty of Grant Park and Millenium Park, but they feel a little overly manicured in our opinion (which is also the case for some places within central park). However, in Central Park there are many places where you feel like you're in a natural park and don't feel like you're in a bustling city.
The additions contemplated in the designs range from the natural (like dunes, berms, trees; one idea calls for a river running through the island. In another, there are a series of new barrier islands in Lake Michigan) to the athletic (beaches, a canoe and kayaking course) to the cultural (a Great Lakes research institute, an amphitheater, a nature center).
Jeanne Gang, principal at Studio Gang Architects, one of the firms working on the designs, said a video message played at the beginning of the night that past input about Northerly indicated a preference for a natural space that wasn’t thronging all the time.
“People wanted to see this as this ecologically rich and diverse space — not a Millennium Park that’s super busy all throughout it,” Gang said. “Because it’s so close to the water and further away from the city, it’s a place where you can actually find some solitude.”
From reading some of the coverage on the plans for Northerly Island, it sounds like the island could evolve into something similar to central parks 'natural' areas. This would be great! Although the current 'natural' space on Northerly Island is serene, it's nothing special and actually a little boring in our opinion. The concept pictured below would make this area interesting and somewhere we would like to go to explore.
The one major request we have is to provide some form of access to the island besides Solidarity drive (which is the street to get to the Planetarium). Every sketch we've seen addresses this problem, so it's obviously on the planners radar.
In terms of next steps for the planning of Northerly Island, the Tribune reports:
Tribune reporter Erika Slife reports that park district officials said they will analyze the feedback they got from the nearly 200 people who attended the meeting and will make another presentation to the public in 2010. Perhaps the Friends of Meigs Field, who boycotted the workshop, will attend next time around. For now, the idea of bringing back the airport is thankfully off the public policy agenda. This is one place where nature, not technology, should prevail.Also, as you might remember we had a post on Sloopin talking about another design for Northerly Island (as part of the Daniel Burnham 100th anniversary celebration: Big. Bold. Visionary. Chicago Considers the Next Century Exhibit). This idea, pictured below didn't purely picture the island as a natural oasis, but more of a functional and practical space that would serve as a place for a variety activities. This idea is much more conceptual, but wanted people to get a full sense of some of the ideas being floated around.
(Images from Chicago Journal and Chicago Tribune)
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Last week we took in the soulful folky singer Ray Lamontagne and although he was solid, the venue slightly overshadowed the crooner. The auditorium is truly a remarkable thing. The murals, architectural detail and sheer size is something to behold. For this show, Lamontagne played a stripped down concert where it was just him, a rug and a acoustic guitar. In fairness to the artist, he really does have an amazing voice, but the venue probably wasn't the most conducive to a solo performance.
In between songs, Lamontagne seemed nervous and at times awkward as he stumbled through rambling stories. We don't blame him though, the venue is pretty intimidating as there are three balconies (with the top two pretty high up and seemingly ontop of the performer). Although we weren't that high up, we've heard that it's not the best place to take in a show or performance.
Regardless, the venue was truly beautiful and classic. It has signs of deterioration, but any building that's 100+ years is going to. It also had a slight lean to the staircase, but we like to call that character.
Anyway, the Auditorium Theater has a pretty wide variety of shows (music, balet, comedy, etc) so we highly recommend checking out whatever floats your boat.
For more info on the history of the theater here is a wikipedia page on the topic.
And for those of you who like Ray Lamontagne, enjoy:
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
I got the sense that these homes sold for more than many had expected — “The developers have to be thrilled with this,” I heard one agent say. The units sold for an average of $276 per square foot, down 26 percent from an original average of $375 per square foot. In all, sales surpassed $11.2 million.
The auction was well attended and resulted in the sale of 20 units (several at reserve) at prices ranging from $187,000 to $316,000. You can see more details on pricing from commenter neo at CribChatter.
We love Manny's (1141 S. Jefferson), the famous Jewish Deli, however it's a little pricey. If this is a concern for you, today is your lucky day. Groupon has a deal for Manny's where you pay $11 and get $22.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
Thursday, November 12, 2009
For more information on Guerrilla Gay Bar South Loop, here are some posts we did on the group a couple of months ago or you can check out their facebook page.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Code of Conduct is:
an environmentally conscious high-end tattoo studio integrated with a clothing boutique located in the South Loop neighborhood of Chicago, IL.And their mission statement is:
Code of Conduct has blossomed from a shop name into a mantra that we as partners and entrepreneurs choose to abide by in both business and life. We are a team of young energetic professionals - the respect, trust and admiration we have for one another are the roots of our Code. We have chosen to take action in a time of economic uncertainty. We believe in the future of our generation and those to follow. We believe in a Code of Conduct.They also have a twitter page and a website (that isn't very evolved yet).
(Hat Tip: JC!)
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Monday, November 9, 2009
Seared tuna tossed with citrus soy dressing on organic saladTo be honest, this doesn't do it justice to the dish. We love ourselves some seared tuna and have tried out variations of this fish at various locations throughout the city and this was probably the second best seared tuna dish we've ever had (FYI - Catch 35 at 35 West Wacker is slightly better, but it's also nearly double the price).
Friday, November 6, 2009
The South Loop Elementary School Local School Council (LCS) in September proposed leasing the school's parking lot during Chicago Bears games to raise money for the lot's upkeep during winter months.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
The most interesting quote was in regards to people who bought before the auction was announced:
Thomas FitzGibbon, executive vice president at MB Financial Bank, said it was safe to assume the units offered Nov. 15 would be sold for less than what the developers originally hoped for.Although we've had people tell us these auctions had nothing to do with the Olympics not coming to Chicago, we still think this was a driving factor. If an auction was inevitable, they should have done it prior to the Olympic decision as demand/speculation probably would have been greater (in our opinion).
That could help push home values down, he said, tough for those who bought “at the top of the market in a development that has suffered in sales.”
“Does that mean you overpaid? I don’t know. You may have paid the right price when you bought it,” he said.
For some of the older posts we did on this subject here are a couple links:
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Instead of having the look of a typical charitable organization, the YWCA building was lavishly ornamented with brick and terra cotta and used to house working women newly arriving in the city, said Jim Peters, president of the nonprofit advocacy group Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois, which placed the structure on its endangered landmarks list last year.
Now, the building is dilapidated, abandoned for at least 20 years after having been a hotel since 1929, Peters said. Although saving the integrity of the entire building seems too costly at this point, Peters and others would like to save the facade, now hidden by scaffolding, to keep with many of the surrounding historic buildings. The strip of buildings is known to some as South Michigan's "Streetwall" and encompasses buildings on Michigan between 11th Street and Randolph Street.
Chicago Tribune outlines their issues in this article.
(Hat Tip: Nikki D!)
"It'll look like the lobby lounge of a boutique hotel," filled with comfy chairs and loveseats, with a view of the downtown skyline, he says. "It won't look like anything else I've ever done,"The other good news is that the name of the bar won't be StarBar (as previously thought).
For those of you not familiar with Kleiner he is the mind behind some eccentric Chicago and South Loop eateries like Opera, Gioco, Marche, Red Light, Carnivale.
Monday, November 2, 2009
See Wong, owner of the Wabash Development Group, has two properties that in or very close to the South Loop that sound like they're still moving forward. To be honest, we were under the impression his planned building at 1349 S. Wabash was off the table, but the article makes it sound like it is still moving forward (however no time frame was mentioned in the article).
The Grand Imperial Hotel at the corner of Clark and Archer (on the fringe of the South Loop depending on who you talk to) looks like a unique piece of architecture that could bring some interesting character to the neighborhood. We had a post on the development a couple of months ago which includes a video and interview of Wong. According to the Tribune article this is scheduled to break ground in 2010.
So why move forward with two new projects in the current environment? According to Wong it's because he caters to a different buyer and market:
While many builders have yielded to the recession, Wabash is thriving, says Wong, because the neighborhoods where he builds -- primarily Chinatown and Bridgeport -- serve an influx of immigrants. "There isn't an oversupply of housing here, especially of condos that cost less than $300,000," he reports.Although we're still skeptical about anything going up in the current environment, maybe Wong is right. We will continue to follow this and see if these developments actually happen.
Wabash developments that serve the Chinese-American market have units that are small by intention, says Wong. "In China, an 800-square-foot condo is a luxury condo," he explains. "So, here, this community wants small units." While his buyers do want nice finishes such as hardwood floors and granite countertops, he says, they are willing to forgo extras such as fireplaces, whirlpool tubs and balconies to minimize their home prices.