Monday, January 31, 2011

Sloopin Retail Roundup

It's Monday, so in our opinion there is no better time to do a Sloopin retail roundup. It's been busy both negatively and positively, but since we like to try to keep things positive we will start with the good stuff.

New Restaurant Coming to Essex Inn
If you've ever been past the Essex Inn on South Michigan you've probably noticed that it usually is dead. The restaurant was called Savoy and appears to be closed (last we checked). Last week a close source for the blog emailed us with a Chicago Magazine post talking about a new restaurant coming to the hotel:
When the chef Paul Wildermuth died unexpectedly on November 13th at the age of 46, he was part of a team working to open a new restaurant in the South Loop called Tribute (Essex Inn, 800 S. Michigan Ave.; no phone yet). “He was the backbone of the project,” says Simon Lamb, one of Tribute’s partners. “Right in the midst, as the lease was being signed, and everything was getting worked out, Paul passed away. We took a hiatus and regrouped to decide whether to go forward with it. But now we are moving forward.” The menu will feature upscale American comfort food for breakfast/brunch, lunch, and dinner, with reasonable-size portions. The 199-seat restaurant will focus on local, sustainable, and organic, to match the Green Seal certification of the hotel.

Whatever comes in at this space will be a major improvement over Savoy.

Flavor 180
Back in December of last year we had a retail roundup and mentioned a project titled "Flavor 180" coming to 1511 S. State. At the time we couldn't find much on the internet and to this day we don't have much info. However, according to everyblock Flavor 180, Inc. has received a liquor license. Beyond that we don't know much. Anyone have any additional knowledge on this place?

1430 South Michigan
Very little information here, but we briefly saw and spoke to people checking in on the vacant retail space. They said they were the owners and that painters were working on it this past weekend. Not sure if this means anything is coming there, but we hope so.

Grace O'Malley's
A commenter last week said Grace O'Malley's would be closing. We tried to email Grace O'Malley's seeking information, but never heard back. According to the commenter, it would be closing in early February. We will have to wait and see what happens.

Avid readers might remember a post we had in November that talked about a Metromix article that said Mainstay Hospitality (owners of Grace O'Malley's, Chicago Firehouse, Wabash Tap) would be opening a new project. Is this a new concept to take over for Grace O'Malley's? Or is it a new location? We will see.

Kutting Edge Kidz
We got an email from a reader saying that this salon for kids closed on Saturday (1/29). Through the blog we actually had the opportunity to meet one of the owners and wish them the best of luck moving forward. The salon was at 1900 S state which was at the corner of State and Archer.

Does anyone else have any new retail info? Seems like there has been a lot of movement with new places coming and old places leaving.

(Hat tip: SoloMotorRow, JF, ND, ZS!)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Super Bowl for the South Loop?

David Haugh from the Chicago Tribune thinks it should be considered:
We missed out on the 2016 Olympics, but there's no reason the masses here can't enjoy an equally compelling sporting event with international appeal this decade. Chicago's next mayor immediately would have a project worth pushing that would please voters and potentially pump a half-billion dollars into the local economy. The league and the NFL owners who vote on such things easily could sell the idea of awarding the event to the NFL's second-largest market that's the home of a charter franchise.

Anybody who rides the "L" can come up with reasons it wouldn't work in Chicago: winter weather, Soldier Field currently is 8,500 seats shy of the 70,000-seat minimum the league requires for Super Bowl stadiums, traffic, Oprah's exit, etc. On the other hand, imagine how satisfying it would be for whoever develops creative solutions to problems standing between Chicago and the marquee sporting event it deserves.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Shots Around the Sloop: Bear Down? Bear (Lit) Up!

Sorry for bringing up bad memories, but these shots are great!
(Hat tip: OA!)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Historical Look at Grant Park Municipal Stadium (aka Soldier Field)

NBC 5 gives us a historical look at one of the South Loop's most recognizable and important venues, Soldier Field:

View more news videos at:

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

McCaskey Restaurant Slated to Open in September

We recently read some new news via Metromix on the Ryan McCaskey "upscale dinning" restaurant that will be coming to 1639 S. Wabash:
When this seasonal American spot opens in early September, it will take its place among the early pioneers of the South Loop’s fine dining scene, with customizable five- or eleven-course tasting menus, as well as a la carte options and a bar menu for neighborhood noshers who want to stop by after work.

Executive chef Ryan McCaskey (formerly of Rushmore and Courtright’s) has lived in the ‘hood for more than 11 years and is looking to fill a niche in upscale dining. As for the menu (which is still being dreamed up), the eats
reflect a “contemporary classic” influence with inventive takes on traditional favorites.
This is the first time we've heard a date put on the project, so mark your calendars for the fall. We also found out some information about the space:
The two-story space itself overlooks a park plaza, and there are plans for a small outdoor patio for the summer months.
As we all know, the park has yet to break ground, but glad to hear that this restaurant will take advantage of the planned park which will be next door to the North. We're excited for this addition...stay tuned.
(Image from Grubstreet)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The New Firestone Looks Much Better

We've had a couple of posts on the Firestone at 1550 S. Wabash that was demolished and has since been rebuilt. Well more progress is being made and the new structure looks 100 times better then the old.

Although the old shop had character and sort of a charming, dingy auto shop vibe (which we kind of liked), the new shop is much easier on the eyes and aesthetically a big improvement.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Open for Business: Welcome to Donna and her Cafe

A couple of weeks ago Donna Adams commented on the site:

Good morning!

I hear someone thinks I'm not opening...well I am! The road to this project has not been easy. The learning curve is/was tremendous and it will continue for a bit! I am new to the world of restaurant owning but not new to the world, learning or being flexible. I hope I can count you guys to help me grow in a positive way, thereby providing you with a positive and enjoyable experience at Donna's Cafe!I look forward seeing you all VERY soon!

Well we recently were walking by and it looks like a lot of progress has been made. Below please find a couple quick phone pictures we took from the outside.

Ironically, a reader just wrote us about the subject:

Hello Sloopin Crew,

Donna's Cafe on State and 13th is now open for business! I haven't been able to stop in yet, but I noticed that their hours are 6am-10pm Monday-Saturday and they're closed on Sunday.

Hopefully they have lots of success!
We second that thought! Welcome to the Sloop and can't wait to try it out. Best of luck!

(Hat tip: CR!)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Blackhawk Tradition Becomes Chicago Tradition?

We love the Blackhawks...almost everything about them (even Brian Campbells unnecessary spin-o-ramas). One of our favorite things is when the fans cheer boisterously during Jim Cornelisons powerful rendition of the national anthem. This was a truly unique thing to the world of sports and as far as we know something that only happened at Chicago Blackhawk games.

To our surprise, when we turned on the Bears/Seahawks game last weekend, Mr. Cornelison was front and center getting ready to show off his voice. As he started, Chicago fans knew what to do. Right on cue, they immediately started cheering:

Is this becoming a Chicago tradition and not simply a Blackhawk tradition? From reports we read earlier in the week, Mr. Cornelison will be back at Soldier field for the Bears/Packers game on Sunday. Hopefully he can bring some of the Blackhawks good luck from last year to Soldier Field and bring home another playoff victory for the Bears.

Bear down!

(Hat tip: K-Pack!)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Chinese President Hu Jintao Comes to Chi & the Sloop

In case you missed the news this past week, a big international story has been taking place in Chicago and our South Loop neighborhood. China's President Hu Jintao came to the city yesterday and stayed at the Hilton Towers on South Michigan Avenue. If you were out and about in the Sloop, chance are you saw the effects of the president's visit.

Walking around the area you saw a lot of security, a lot of Chinese Flags and a lot of cold people.

Here is a video we found on YouTube outside of the hotel:

For those of you who are curious as to why the Chinese president was in Chicago:
Chinese President Hu Jintao took his roadshow to the U.S. Midwest, where executives from the two countries were set to sign up to 60 deals on Friday to
underscore the message that China is open for business.

Leaving behind the rancor of Washington where he was pressed on human rights and currency policy, Hu was feted by the Chicago elite at a gala dinner in U.S. President Barack Obama's hometown.

The Chinese leader was scheduled to wrap up his four-day state visit with stops at a school and a business exhibition.

A New Way To Get Discounts?

It appears that the South Loop is the testing grounds for a new deal site. We recently read about this concept on the NBC Chicago website and were intriqued. Althought the QR
(which stands for Quick Response codes) readers are pretty easy to use, seems like an unnecessary step to get a deal. Can't it just say text XXX to XXX and we will send you a deal? Who knows, maybe people are intriqued by this?

Smart phone addicts are probably already aware of QR or Quick Response codes -- those square-shaped, funky-looking bar codes that appear in magazines, train stations or even on business cards.

Now they're impossible to ignore. Chicago company is placing gigantic QR codes in locations around Chicago. The first 600 square foot code popped up near the corner of Polk and Clark streets in the South Loop.

South Loop businesses such as Jimmy Green's Tavern and Blackies appear to be utilizing this technology according to the NBC article.

(Image from NBC Chicago's Website)

Confused By the Soldier Field Events Parking Restrictions?

Just in time for the final Bears game of the season, a concerned Sloopite details a frustrating and confusing street parking episode:

Hi Sloopin,

I wanted to write you about a situation I am currently in the middle of involving parking in the South Loop during the Soldier Field events. From the information I have gathered, there have been many victims of this same misunderstanding.

When I returned home from out of town on Saturday night, I tried parking in my usual permit only area around 14th and State. There were no spots available, so I found one on 14th Place. As we all do, I checked the signs and the only restriction was "No Parking 2 hrs before Soldier Fields Events and 1 hr after except vehicles displaying resident permits". I knew there was a Bears game the next day, but I had a "Residential Permit" clearly displayed in my shield
with the local neighborhood permit area listed on it as well.

I went to leave on Monday night to go to my hockey league and my car was nowhere to be found. I went online and found it at the Sacramento impound lot. I took a cab to the impound lot for $15. At the impound lot, the attendant told me that there has been many people saying they also had the correct permits displayed according to the signs and they too were towed and I can request a hearing to dispute the tow charge. I had to pay $170 to get my car out and hurried on to my hockey game.

On Tuesday, I called the number on my tow stub to schedule my hearing and they told me I was supposed to do that at the impound lot or I could write a letter and wait three weeks for a reply. This perturbed me since I was not offered to schedule a hearing even after complaining about the towing. I was also told that it is not the city that is towing the vehicles but yet another vendor the city has hired and I can take my complaint up to their supervisor.

On a side note, a friend of mine was also towed a few months ago for a Solider Field event and he said there was a line of people there with the same argument then.

I then called Alderman Bob Fioretti's office to explain that there seems that many of their local citizens are being abused by the tow truck operators towing their vehicles despite having the correct permits displayed. The person on the phone explained to me that there is yet another permit (besides the City parking sticker and the neighborhood permit sticker) that you need to have to park during Solider Field events. I said fair enough, but the signs do not say "except vehicles displaying a Soldier Field event permit" but says a "resident permit" of which I (and many others) believed we had. They asked me to bring photos in to show them. Thanks for the proactive help.

So that is where I stand now. I have spent almost $200 to get my car out of impound that was improperly towed in the first place and still have to return to an impound lot to schedule a hearing to argue my case. So it will be weeks before I have a chance to get my money back.

I am curious how many Sloopin readers have been in similar situations with the Soldier Field events parking? I really believe they need to pay attention to the "resident permits" that we have all paid to have to park in the area or else change the signage to require a "Soldier Field event permit".


A Concerned Sloopite

Personally we haven't had a problem, but we agree these signs are confusing. What do others think?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Sports Night in the Sloop

Yesterday we watched two young women talk about the Sloop. Mostly positive things to say, but one comment stuck out like a sore thumb:
“For a fun time if we wanted to go anywhere after 9 o-clock, we’d just go to the Jewel.”

Well this past Saturday we were looking for some fun post 9 o'clock. Although it's easy to concede that the Sloop might not have as many night time options as River North, Lincoln Park or Wicker Park...going to Jewel is a little bit of an exaggeration in our mind (although it is a funny one).

This past weekend was a huge sports weekend and consequently we wanted to head to a bar to get some drinks and bathe in the glow of numerous Televisions. In the past we've had some discussion on where was the best place to watch the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament in the Sloop. At that time the consensus was Kroll's on the Northwest corner of Michigan and 18th. We still agree that that's a great place for sports.

However, tonight we had a friend coming down who lived in Streeterville and didn't want to go that far South. So we were looking for something North of Roosevelt. Villain's? Bar Louie? Kasey's Tavern? South Loop Club? We ultimately decided on Jimmy Green's Tavern (825 S. State), after all the place is new and packed with brand new flat screen Televisions. Ironically they were also hosting that night's Chicago Blackhawks Cityroad watch (which is a good time and something we've covered before). Since our goal was to watch and listen to the Blackhawks, but also be able to watch the Bulls vs Heat (NBA) while watching the Packers vs Falcons (NFL), this seemed like the perfect solution.

Well we weren't the only people with this game plan in mind. We walked in a found a lengthy wait for tables. Luckily the wait wasn't as long as originally anticipated. We got a table and had a prime seat in the middle of the bar. Best of all we were perfectly positioned with plenty of TVs in view to catch all of the sporting events. We came for the sporting events, but obviously had to get some food and drinks.

To our surprise, Jimmy Green's has their own Lager that is brewed specifically for the bar by Argus Brewery. Naturally we had to give this a try. Personally I enjoyed it and drank it the rest of the night. My wife (who prefers light beer) enjoyed it but switched to something a little lighter as the night progressed.

In regard to food, we had some quesadillas, steak nachos and the surprise of the night, a Salmon Sandwich on a pretzel roll. The first two were huge portions and what you would imagine from a bar. Solid food, but they're not quite competing for best in the city. The Salmon Sandwich was an odd choice, but was pretty good. Definitely not disappointing.

All in all it was a solid night. Saturdays are always big bar nights, but the sports made it seem even bigger (judging by the fact that every establishment we walked by seemed to be overflowing). Given the fact that one of the biggest football games in Soldier Field history is taking place this Sunday (Bears vs Packers for a trip to the Super Bowl), we imagine another big weekend is in store.

So if you're looking to enjoy some beer and sports in the Sloop, we would suggest Jimmy Green's. Just make sure you get there early to get a seat!

(Hat tip: ND & Jean G!)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

After 9pm, Go the Jewel for Fun?

We recently saw this video posted on YoChicago that highlights two women who used to live in the Sloop and have since moved up north. You probably won't find any surprises while listening to it, however it's always good to hear opinions about our neighborhood.

Seems pretty reasonable. They bash the nightscene in the Sloop, but besides that mostly positive things to say:

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Yikes! A South Loop Standoff

From Chicago Tribune Breaking News:
A standoff between Chicago police and a man refusing to get out of his vehicle in the city's South Loop has ended, authorities said.

A police spokesman didn't readily know whether the man who refused to get out of the vehicle in the 1100 block of South Wells Street was armed with a weapon.

No injuries have been reported in the roughly two-hour standoff, which resulted in the police shutting down several streets surrounding the scene, including vehicle and pedestrian traffic on Roosevelt Road.

(Hat tip: K!)

City Council Approves Ping Tom Park Expansion

We recently read on the City of Chicago website (via curbed chicago) that the city council has approved expansion of a field house in Ping Tom Park:

Approved also was an ordinance that finances the construction of an athletic field house in Ping Tom Park on the City’s Near South Side.

Funds for the $10 million proposal will be allocated from the River South TIF district.
The field house will include a main gym, club rooms and community meeting areas for nearby Chinatown residents and other users. Specific design details are anticipated to be completed in 2011. Construction is expected
to start the following year.

The park is located on a 12-acre site adjacent to the South Branch of the Chicago River at 300 W. 19th St. Initially featuring a children's
playground, community gathering areas and Chinese landscape design elements, the park was later expanded north of 18th Street to include ball fields, play areas
and a variety of river edge improvements that are currently under construction.

We remember seeing some renderings of a field house (click here), but haven't heard much about the project until we read the article above. It's a great piece of land, so hopefully this comes to fruition.

(Image from Site Design Group)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Bearing Down Towards the Super Bowl?

The Chicago Bears are one step closer to the ultimate goal of winning a super bowl. A dominant performance today against the Seattle Seahawks has people thinking big. Hopefully the same team shows up next Sunday at 2pm at Soldier Field to beat up on our most hated rival, the Green Bay Packers.

Interestingly, this is only the second time the Bears and Packers have faced each other in the playoffs.

Anyway, the city will likely be electric leading up to the game next week and it should be a fun time around the Sloop! Although most people around the city are happy to watch the Bears advance to the NFC championship game, our guess is that business owners in the South Loop(mainly restaurants and bars) are particularly happy that they will have another opportunity to cash in on another game day in the South Loop.

Next Sunday should be fun...

Bear Down!

Chiropractor Moving Into Clark and Polk?

A reader writes:
I walk by the intersetion of Clark and Polk everyday and noticed for awhile that something is going into one of the commerical spaces in Burnham Pointe. Does anyone know what business this will be?

Although we're not 100% sure what this might be, we had some old emails from a reader letting us know that a chiropracter's office was moving in:
I believe Dr. Christina Know is a chiropractor in the river city building. Since that got flooded, she is likely moving locations. It's going to be a "Proper Balance Healthcare"
location. They are going to have health food, therapy, massages, etc..There is a lot of construction in the space - completely transforming interior.

(Hat tip: AW & DG!)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Red Light Cameras Gone at State and Roosevelt?

On a recent drive through the intersection of Roosevelt and State, we noticed that the red light cameras appear to be gone. Is this permanent or temporary, we don't know. We've read that revenue from these red light tickets are drying up in the suburbs and as a result is causing some places to reconsider.

They've always been controversial and if you live in the neighborhood, you've probably been hit by one of these tickets before (we have!).

As far as we can tell, the camera at the Canal and Roosevelt intersection is still up and running, but we will keep our eyes open to see what transpires there.

(Hat tip: ND...or is it S?)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

With a New Year Comes New Opportunities


2011 is here and with a new year comes new opportunities. Sloopin had a great 2010, but we're out to make 2011 even better.

Before we talk about 2011, we want to say thank you to all our readers and contributors! Whether you simply come to the site to peruse or if you send us emails, pictures or videos, your support is appreciated and why we do what we do here at Sloopin.

With that said, we're aiming for a big 2011. Although we plan to stay true to our mission and continue to provide a place for people in the South Loop to interact and get information about the neighborhood, we're setting our ambitions higher. Here's the catch, we can't do everything alone.

If you have ideas for the blog send them our way ( and we will see what we can do. If you want to write, feel free to email us as well ( But the thing we're most excited about in 2011 is collaborating on a start-up project that centers around Sloopin. Although we can't divulge too much now, we can provide you with the inspiration behind the start-up, which is a poem from Chicago born, virtuoso Shel Silverstein:
All the Woulda-Coulda-Shouldas
Layin' in the sun,
Talkin' 'bout the things
They Woulda-Coulda-Shoulda done...
But all those Woulda-Coulda-Shouldas
All ran away and hid
From one little did.

Ok, so that doesn't tell you much. But hopefully it's intriguing.

With that said, the main thing we're looking for right now is web experts. We have a job posting on Craigslist, but here is what we're looking for:
We are seeking talented individuals to work on a start-up venture in Chicago. Whether you consider yourself a Designer, Developer or Database Developer, you may have a fit with us. Our goal is to gather a team which will be building the customer facing web application, along with the database foundations for the internal business to run. We are seeking individuals with previous start-up experience. We are offering cash or equity, or a combination of both. Please indicate if you would consider an equity payment as an option for compensation.

High-level experience is required in one or more of the following areas: javascript, html, css, MS SQL, MySQL, PHP, ColdFusion, vb.NET.

Please include work samples if available and resume in email if interested. This is a contract position to start, possible full time opportunity to follow.
If you or anyone you know might be a fit, feel free to apply via our Craigslist posting or by sending work samples and resumes to

Get ready Sloopers, 2011 is going to be great!

Job Well Done CTA!

Simply put...Job well done CTA!

If you're like us, over the years you've bashed the CTA for any number of issues. Whether it was stations that are falling apart or delays or breakdowns, it's usually not hard to find issues to complain about when it come to the CTA.

So when they do something well, you have to acknowledge it! Like the super helpful bus tracker that was rolled out in February of 2009 (see an old Sloopin post here), the new train tracker that rolled out recently is immensely helpful.

We tried it out on Monday and simply put...amazing. When I walked out of my condo, I checked the mobile app and saw a Green line train was due to arrive in 7 minutes at the Roosevelt stop. I knew a brisk walk would get me there in time. If there wasn't a train coming for 15 minutes, I probably would have taken the bus. This type of information helps me plan my trip on the helpful.

Yes, there are bound to be small glitches and issues, but judging from our experiences over the first two days, again we say job well done CTA!

Have you used the website or mobile app? Is it working for you? Please let us know.

(Image from CTA Train Tracker)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Data Centers - A New Trend in the Sloop?

Yes, there is a lot of empty space in various parts of the South Loop these days. Whether it's high rises with little occupancy or vacant retail spaces, in many places around our neighborhood (and to be fair many other neighborhoods) it ain't pretty.

With all this space, it's been interesting to read about data centers moving into the area. Today we read about a new data center being built at 840 South Canal:
A real estate firm has purchased the Northern Trust building at 840 South Canal street in Chicago, and plans to spend $200 million to convert it into a data center. The former check processing plant in Chicago's south loop was purchased by the Red Sea Group late last month for $35 million from Northern Trust Corp.
It's an interesting trend as we remember reading last year that a new data center was being built at Cermak and Michigan. This is also close to another, older data center at 350 east Cermak that accordingly to this articleis the world's largest data center (see picture).

Most of these data centers are popping up to serve trading companies, which are increasingly relying on fast technology to get a competitive advantage for their business.

The question remains, is this good for our neighborhood? Most of the data centers seem to be popping up in relatively desolate areas (or at least what are currently desolate areas), so one could argue that functioning buildings are better then empty buildings or vacant lots. But it's not like these buildings provide much for the neighborhood in terms of employees eating at restaurants or shopping in the area.

We're mixed on the topic, so what do you think?

Monday, January 10, 2011

In Search of People for a Neighborhood Produce Box

There has been some discussion on Sloopin in the past about fresh produce, but we recently received an email from a reader in search of people to help get a produce box drop point:

Hi Sloopy,

I'm writing to you because I was hoping that through your blog, I would be able to see how much interest there would be in getting a produce box drop off location in the south loop.

A produce box is a weekly collection of fruits and vegetables that comes from local farms that changes weekly. Normally you pick them up from a store or have them delivered to your house for an extra fee. I spoke with the people up at New Leaf in Rogers Park whom I used to get the produce box from while living in that part of the city. They told me that if they had 5 consistent customers in the area and we can find a central location for a drop off point, which I was hoping could be South Loop Market or Panozzos, participants would not have to pay the delivery charge that is
normally associated with this part of this part of the city. Here is a link of an example of what normally comes in New Leafs produce box. These boxes are a great deal for the money and considering how busy (and expensive) whole foods is, I'm sure that people in the hood would be interested. Let me know what you think.

Also, I really feel like a running store would kill in the South Loop with all the runners in the area and the proximity to the lake. What can we do to make a Fleet Feet or Universal Sole take a look down here? Let me know, as I would be more than happy to help.

The produce box is an interesting idea, so are any Sloopsters interested? Chime in.

In regard to the readers second point, we couldn't agree more about a running store. We've had some success when people from the blog reach out via email to the companies of interest. With that said, here is a link to Fleet Feet Corporate or here is there email address: Again, have at it and let them know you want a running store.

Judging by how many people are out and about running (at least when it's a little warmer), it seems like a great fit.

(Hat Tip: JF!)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Velvet Lounge Currently Closed; Musicians Go Elsewhere

As a fan of music it saddened us to hear of Fred Andersons passing last year. If you're not familiar with the Jazz scene, he was one of the most influential people around. Fred's passion and talent was realized at his Velvet Lounge at 67 E. Cermak (between Wabash and Michigan).

Unfortunately, the fate of the Velvet Lounge is still TBD according to a Chicago Tribune article we just read:

Anderson had presided over his landmark Velvet Lounge, at 67 E. Cermak Rd., until his death last June, at age 81. His granddaughters kept the club running for several months, but his sons Eugene and Michael Anderson took the reins in late November and promptly closed the place. They have said they'll reopen the Velvet, but it remains dark.

An Anderson family spokesman could not be reached for comment.

The club was unique in Chicago – and perhaps the jazz world, itself – in that it functioned almost as a cooperative. Many musicians and service staff volunteered their time to nurture Anderson's vision of a room where artists could pursue experimental ideas not welcome in more conventional jazz clubs. Anderson's stature as tenor saxophonist drew top names from across Chicago and around the world to the Velvet, not only on Cermak Road but in the club's previous location, at 2128-1/2 S. Indiana Ave.

After Anderson's death, many observers wondered how long the unusual
business arrangement could last without its founder. Anderson himself helped
underwrite the club, applying some of his earnings from foreign tours to pay the

We will eagerly wait and see what happens with the place. In the meantime:

A consortium of Chicago jazz musicians long associated with the Velvet Lounge, which was shuttered on Dec. 1, is setting up shop a few blocks away.

The artists will launch their new venture Jan. 21 at the L26 Restaurant and Lounge in the Chicago South Loop Hotel, 11 W. 26th St. That's at the bustling corner of 26th and State Streets, four blocks south of the late Chicago saxophonist Fred Anderson's iconic Velvet Lounge.

First thing that comes to mind is whether or not the South Loop Hotel is really in the South Loop, but that's another topic for another day. Regardless, hope it works out for them.

(Image from Jazzology Blog)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Free Admission Week at Shedd Starting on Jan 16th

We live close to amazing cultural attractions and it's always nice when you can go for free:

One of the Midwest's top cultural attractions is kicking off the new year with a
week of free general admission.

The Shedd Aquarium is offering the deal starting Sunday Jan. 16, through Friday Jan. 21.The free week is sponsored by Ford Motor Company Fund.

Also at Shedd, starting next week Mondays and Tuesdays in January will be community discount/free general admission days. That means no cost for original galleries and discounts on all other exhibits.

Nice work Ford, this is the type of advertising and marketing we love.

Not sure if you have to pay for the dolphin show, but regardless it's fun to watch either live or on Youtube:

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Real Estate Sales Person Chimes in on Lexinton Park

Brita Rivera, a VP of Sales who used to work at Lexington Park, provides some first hand thoughts on the current state of Lexington Park (Northeast corner of Michigan and Cermak) on her blog:
I’m not sure why it has taken so long for them (Starwood)to decide what direction to take Lexington Park, but can only assume the delay is due to the incredible breaks they received in the transaction. Purchasing it for a fraction of the cost, with a no interest loan and a huge cash infusion, probably offers them little reason to move quickly. Only time will tell what will happen at Lexington Park, but I sure hope they move soon, as the vacant building with no lights, is an eyesore to the south loop.

Who knows what the current state is, but it truly is a shame. Most people on the blog seem to think Cermak eventually will be one of Chicago's great East-West streets (including us), but there is some debate about how soon this might happen.

In my mind, if people ever move into this building it will help this corridor out a ton. Although there is some foot traffic it's pretty sparse, it's mostly people driving. But if people lived here it would probably provide a step in the right direction.

The other major development that could help this stretch is the proposed Green line stop at Cermak. It's been over a year since we last heard about that though...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

CTA Train Tracker Coming in January

Just in case you missed this, some amazing news from the CTA:
Chicago Transit Authority President Richard L. Rodriguez today announced that a pilot version of the highly anticipated CTA Train Tracker will be launched in early January via a dedicated website. Customers using desktop computers or mobile web-enabled devices, such as iPhones, BlackeBerries or smartphones, will be able to access estimated arrival times for trains on all eight rail lines.

"Following the popularity of Bus Tracker, the CTA has been developing a similar tool for riders to get estimated arrival times for trains," said Rodriguez. "We are just as eager as our customers for this pilot program to launch so that our rail customers have the information they need to better plan their trips and make their experience on the CTA even more convenient and reliable."
This is great news. We're huge fans of the CTA's Bus Tracker and anything that is remotely similar is an improvement in our mind. However the CTA did warn that this is a "Beta" version and probably won't be as accurate initially as the Bus Tracker.

For those of you who are really interested in the technology read this interesting post on the CTA Tattler.

Anything is better then the system we have now (which is looking down the tracks to see if a train is coming)!

(Image From:

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Shots Around the Sloop: Not the Place to Park

Hopefully everyone was ok, but regardless an interesting place to leave a car:
(Hat Tip: AR!)

Monday, January 3, 2011

Another Condo Building Goes Rental

In our first real post of 2011, it seems fitting that a real estate story starts off the year. This past Thursday, Crain's Chicago reported that a Miami Developer bought 200 units at Astoria Tower (Northeast corner of State and 9th):
A Miami developer has purchased more than 200 unsold units in a South Loop tower, a deal that chips away at the glut of new condos for sale in the beleaguered neighborhood. Crescent Heights Inc. last week paid roughly $45 million for 205 units, or about 83% of the 248-unit Astoria Tower.
Although some might see this as a bad thing, the article puts an interesting spin on this:
The shift to apartments could help other condo projects in the South Loop, which have been competing over a seemingly dwindling supply of prospective buyers.
“This deal gets (condo) inventory off the market and puts bodies in the units,” says Chris Huecksteadt, a local director at Metrostudy, a Houston-based housing market research and consulting firm.
Sure, having bodies in units is a good thing, but it will be interesting to see if this really alters the market. People are optimistic that the economy is going to get better in the new year, but who knows about the real estate market.

We will be watching with eager eyes!

(Hat Tip: ND and AV!)

Saturday, January 1, 2011