To most people who don't reside in the South Loop, South of 16th street is still way out of their "comfort zone". Although we usually try to talk them out of this mindset, the fact is that it's still relatively desolate South of 16th street. Yes, Michigan Avenue has move in ready retail space and businesses are slowly moving in, but West of that is pretty bare.
But there have been some recent positive signs. Who can forget the beautiful and unique Columbia College Media Production Center on South State street or the new Clark-N-Oak Animal Hospital opening across the street. We also were sent an email with a link to a new day care going in at the 1900 block of South State called Summa Cum Laude Early Learning Center.
Wabash is showing some interesting signs of life as well. If you read Sloopin, you know about the controversy around a proposed park at 16th and Wabash. Regardless of how you feel about the topic, in our opinion a park of any kind is an improvement over an empty lot. We also found out some interesting information from Alderman Fioretti's newsletter which mentioned that South of the park would be a "private commercial property, which will be a new restaurant".
Well according to Chicago Magazine, it appears that this restaurant is a new high end "to be named" project by Ryan McCaskey:
The South Loop teems with newly built condo skyscrapers, but somehow, fancy restaurants have materialized much more slowly. Into this breach steps Ryan McCaskey, who sports lines on his resumé from Tuttaposto, Vivere, Rushmore, Courtright’s, and Tizi Melloul (which now seems to be like the Taxi of Chicago restaurants, with alumni going on to ambitious projects left and right). In late summer or early fall, McCaskey plans to open a “contemporary classic American” spot at 1639 South Wabash Avenue.
This is definitely welcomed news for this strip, but it ain't going to be cheap at approximately $60-$70 a person. Regardless in our opinion this is great!
It also provides some Southward movement for the Wabash restaurant row. The 1300 block of South Wabash currently boasts 5 "nicer" restaurants. Maybe this will cause similar restaurants to open up shop on South Wabash (yes, we know that Cuatro and Room 21 didn't exactly cause a similar trend, but those were much further South). We can dream...
(Hat tip: SoloMotorRow & JP!)