Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sloopy the Falcon

If you're a loyal reader from way back in 2009, you may remember a post we did for the Field Museum asking residents to keep their eyes open for the Peregrine Falcon.

Not mentioned in that post was that Stephanie was going to name one of the Falcon's Sloopy. Well we just received an nice note from her last week:

Hi guys,

I am the Field Museum employee working with the Chicago Peregrine Falcon Program. You guys helped us out a great deal in 2009 when we were looking for the whereabouts of the south loop pair.

First off, they are nesting again this year. They have two chicks and everyone seems healthy! Second, in 2009, we named one of the Broadway nest's females in honor of Sloopin -- Sloopy. We wanted to name one of the South Loop chicks Sloopy, but the building they nested on had dibs on the names. Anyway,as it turns out, Sloopy is a new mother. She's nesting at a lime plant down in Indiana.

We often don't hear anything about our chicks after they leave the nest, so it's really gratifying for us when they are spotted and ID'din those years after. It's spectacularly more gratifying when we hear they actually have a territory of their own and are adding to the population.

Guess it was good mojo to name her Sloopy!


Good to hear and thanks for the update!

(Hat tip: SW!)

Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Memorial Day!

In honor of the day we did a youtube search for "memorial day chicago" and this is what we got:

To bad neither our Basketball or Hockey teams are here to honor the troops, but thankfully youtube helps us do that.

Can't think of a better way to honor the troops then listening to the best national anthem singer in the biz...Jim Cornelison!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Continued Talk about a Casino in the Sloop

We posted about the city casino talk last Sunday, but this past week we're read numerous articles about how the South Loop would make sense. According to a Chicago Journal article it sounds like Alderman Fioretti is into the idea:

But the combination of new Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who actively supports a casino, and massive state and city budget deficits mean a Chicago casino might finally become reality. Further, it could arrive in the South Loop, as Ald. Robert Fioretti (2nd Ward) is already looking at specific locations for a city gambling spot.

Fioretti and other internet sites (among them readers of Sloopin) have suggested that the old post office that straddles Congress Parkway just west of the river would be a great spot. We agree, but it's unfortunate that the city just auctioned this off. Not to say that the city couldn't come to terms with the owner, but it's just ironic that the city sells something and then would want it back.

Lee Bey from WBEZ thinks the McCormick Place East should be the spot for a new casino:

For my money, a city-owned casino should be McCormick Place's Lakeside Center, the 40-year-old modernist convention hall that its owner, the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, says is under-used, headed toward obsolescence, needs a $150 million renovation and costs $10 million a year just to operate. It will bring a money-making use to the building that will allow it to maintain itself. And at 580,000 square feet, the building is a bit undersized by convention standards, but would be among the largest casinos on the planet in terms of terms of sheer gaming space, placing it in league with the 546,000 sq ft of gaming halls at China's Venetian Macau--currently the world's largest. Its size could make this country's largest casino--Las Vegas' 170,000 ft MGM Grand--look like a few poker machines in the back of a bar in Lyons by comparison. Then there's Lakeside Center's Arie Crown Theater which can seat 4200 people--large enough to bring big acts to entertain that new audience.

The Chicago Journal article goes on to say that McCormick Place probably won't happen:

Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, which runs both McCormick Place and Navy Pier, want no part of a city casino.

"Lakeside Center is definitely not the place for a casino," MPEA Trustee Jim Reilly said in a statement. "Our trade show customers do not want their attendees leaving the show floor during show hours."

Seems like the talk is ramping up...and it seems like the South Loop is the place many around the city think the casino could land. Could be good for business...could be bad for families...

Friday, May 27, 2011

South Loop is Not a Hipster Neighborhood?

This is probably expected by most, but remember the South Loop is home to Columbia College which must be the biggest hipster producing school in Chicago.

Anyway Urban Turf had a recent post ranking the top ten hipster neighborhoods based on results from Yelp and Twitter. Not surprisingly, Wicker Park, Logan Square and Bucktown were the top three neighborhoods:
One would argue that the South Loop is too expensive to be an enclave for Hipsters and that's probably true. Regardless, if it's during the school year and you're north of Roosevelt you might argue.

One last thing to leave you with...is being a hipster friendly neighborhood a good or bad thing? When we talk to people the term "hipster" seems to have a negative connotation. We know plenty of people that probably could be classified as hipsters but would never think of themselves as hipsters. Anyway, would be curious to hear your thoughts.

Also remember that 2010 was the year of the sloopster...

(Hat tip: Curbed Chicago)
(Image from: Urban Turf)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

More Signs of Life at Old Orange Space on Harrison

A reader writes:

It may be worth a short posting to note that there is finally work happening in the old Orange space on Harrison. All the windows are covered with heavy paper so it’s hard to see, but by peeping through a couple holes it’s clear that the entire space is gutted, bar is gone, the old tile floor is gone, we’re talking down to the studs front to back. No “coming soon” signs, however.

Not sure what this is, but about two months ago we got a similar email (with pictures) and we also spoke with some friends who live in Printers Row. It definitely sounds like something is going on...if anyone knows please share.

(Hat tip: JM!)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Vertical Campus Video Excites

The new Roosevelt University Vertical Campus building is well underway and we recently stumbled upon this video (albeit old):

The vertical campus looks to be an interesting addition to the Chicago Skyline and a building that definitely will bring more students to the neighborhood.

Monday, May 23, 2011

New Apartments and Restaurant Coming to 1150 S. Wabash?

We've heard rumors of large high rises going in at 1150 S. Wabash (just North of the building with Bongo Room), but we're happy to get this email from a reader:

Just wanted to drop a line and give a heads up that the burnt out building at 1150 S wabash will be partially torn down and a new 3 story building will be in its place.

The first two floors will be some restaurant (the drawings didn't say what) and the third floor will be new studio apartments aimed at Columbia students.

Who knows what the deal is, but we always like the idea of new restaurants coming in. It sounds like Wabash has some momentum going...

(Hat tip: Anon!)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Where Would the City Put a Casino?

Casino talk is not new, but it came up as a topic for debate again this past week (probably because of Rahm taking over). A recent article on NBC chicago's website ponders where this might go:

Where would the Windy City's casino be built?

Though the state has to give the first approval to expand gambling, it
would be up to the Chicago City Council to decide the casino's location.
Block 37, Trump Tower and McCormick Place are among the contenders that have
been discussed.

Some state lawmakers think because of Emanuel's support, a casino might
make its way through the legislature this session. "If the rest of
the state can have riverboats, why not Chicago?" asked Sen. Kirk Dillard

Still, Dillard said he believes five new casinos are too many.

Some lawmakers are looking for Emanuel to make his way to the state capitol
before the May 31 adjournment. It's not on his schedule just yet, but there's
still time.

We know most people don't want this around the Sloop, but it seems like the old Icke homes might be a perfect spot (then the buses in Chinatown going to the Casinos won't have as much business)? Or Michael Reese Campus?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Glessner House Celebrates 125th Anniversary

The blog Cityscapes has a quick post talking about the Glessner House's (1800 S. Prairie Ave) 125 Anniversary:

Few buildings in Chicago can match the historical importance of the John J. Glessner House, Henry Hobson Richardson's powerfully severe mansion at 1800 S. Prairie Ave. With its striking arched doorways and simple mass of stone, Glessner House influenced Louis Sullivan, who influenced Frank Lloyd Wright. And....well, you get the idea: Glessner House matters!

On Wednesday, June 1, the private, non-profit Glessner House Museum will kick off an 18-month celebration commemorating the 125th anniversary of the home's construction. The 6 p.m. event will include a re-creation of the original
groundbreaking ceremony, the unveiling of two exhibits, and a presentation by museum director William Tyre, "1886: A Year to Remember."

(Image from Chicagofree Info)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Daleys Moving Out of the Sloop?

So much for the speedy snow removal from Indiana Ave...according to an article in the Chicago Sun-Times, the Daleys have listed their townhouse in the Sloop:

Sneed hears former Mayor Richard M. Daley and wife, Maggie, are putting their South Loop house, which they reportedly bought for $400,000 about 15 years ago, on the market for a reported $1 million plus.

Background: Mrs. Daley, who has been heroically battling metastatic breast cancer for several years, has a difficult time climbing stairs, and the couple has been living in a downtown apartment more conducive to that issue.

Not sure if a downtown apartment means one in the Sloop or one somewhere else. Regardless, sad to hear this news. Although many people have many different feelings towards our old mayor, he was definitely instrumental in the South Loop's rise.

Chicago Code Fans Rally to Save the Show

Last week we found out that the Chicago Code was getting cancelled. Most people would say this didn't come as a surprise, but some were still upset (check out the comment section of the old post).

It sounds like a Tribune writer and many others had the same reaction. Some fans of the show have even created facebook pages to try to save it:

By day, Michelle Ford is a mild-mannered worker at the University of Chicago's student counseling center.

But at night? She's a warrior for "The Chicago Code."

"HOW DARE THEY CANCEL THIS SHOW!" she wrote on her facebook page
on Monday night as the Fox show wound toward its harrowing climax. "They better not replace it with some ... crap!"

The matter of the fact is that this show probably isn't coming back and the "crap" Michelle references is probably a lot cheaper to produce than a drama in Chicago.

Regardless, ratings were up 12% last week against the A18-49 demo. Maybe there will be a second life for this show...

Don't hold your breathe.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Baltzley Out at Tribute; Letrero Takes Over

Tribute, the new restaurant going in at the Essex Inn on Michigan, has apparently parted ways with their executive chef Brandon Baltzley (left in picture). In early March we had a post stating how intrigued we were with Baltzley. Whether it was his past at Mado, his unique tattoos (loved the pirate swords on his neck), or the interesting concoctions that won him the job, it all sparked our curiosity.

The new executive chef, Lawrence Letrero (right in picture), taking over for Baltzley was already on the team so our guess is that this change won't derail the concept.

The Chicago Eater blog states that Baltzley relapsed into drug use:

Based on recent tweets on Baltzley's feed, it sounds like the tattooed chef may have relapsed into drug use. He wrote, in a series of tweets just now, "I'm getting sober people, tranquillo. My last year in NYC was spent in church basements talking with other addicts. We opened 6th St and it was great. Dropped the ball 8 months later... nothing new. All will be good. Good luck to those guys. They fucking rock."

Yesterday, Baltzley tweeted that his "septum has been deviated" and asked, "Who wants to babysit me for 14 days?" Eater got in touch with Baltzley just now and asked if he was going to rehab. "Trying too. It's hard financially," he said. "Seeing what I can do."

Hope he gets his stuff straightened out and gets back to what he does well. And although he's gone, we're still intrigued by Tribute. Hopefully they open soon...we're getting restless.

(Image from Chicago Eater)

Shots Around the Sloop: Hat Tip to Oprah?

With all the hoopla sourounding Oprah's last show (filmed at the United Center), a reader and friend of the blog was wondering if the new people at the Scout were paying tribute to the TV Legend:
(Hat tip: Organic Strings!)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Chicagobusiness.com: Field Musuem Needs to Evolve

Museum Campus is an integral part of our neighborhood and it appears that the Field Museum is struggling according to chicagobusiness.com:

As recently as 2006, the Field Museum was the city's top tourist attraction,
drawing more than 2 million visitors with “Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the
Pharaohs.” Last year, with attendance down by nearly 1 million, it was No. 11.

One of Chicago's premier cultural institutions, the Field Museum is struggling to stay relevant as attendance slumps and public support wanes in an era of high-tech distractions and budget-cutting.

The slump puts President and CEO John McCarter, 73, in the toughest spot since he took over 15 years ago. He's already slashed employment by a third since 2007, to 431 full-timers, and curtailed programs. With no blockbuster exhibitions on the
horizon and an aged structure in need of repair, Mr. Carter could be forced into
more cutbacks.
Although we understand the facts and some of the issues the museum faces, it's still an institution that is near and dear to many Chicagoans. Hopefully things get better. Ironically we just received a PR release about their new "Whales: Giants of the Deep" exhibit that opens on Friday (5/20):

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

South Loop Restaurant Scene Mentioned as a Negative Legacy Mayor Daley Leaves Behind

With Mayor Daley officially out of office, many publications and news sources have been spending time dissecting his legacy on a variety of areas. We recently did a post about his legacy on architecture and design around the city and specifically the South Loop, and yesterday we found an interesting post by the blog Chicagoist talking about his legacy from a food perspective.

In this post, the blog calls one of the "darker sides" to his legacy was the pace of residential growth and the ramifications on local restaurants and retail. They used the South Loop to illustrate this point:

At the same time, the development during Daley's reign had a dark side. The renovated buildings and high-income communities that allowed $40 per plate restaurants to exist often drove out small, locally-owned business. Sometimes,
as in the case of the South Loop, development was done so fast that it backfired. When the goal was simply to draw in as many wealthy people as possible, whatever the consequences, neighborhoods often ended up without retail or dining for long stretches of time - the South Loop still struggles to attract and keep restaurants.

Although the paragraph seems to be on-point in some areas, it's ironic that last week we had a post quoting a story in the Red-Eye (via Metromix) saying that the "South Loop is on the verge of an eatery expansion" (see post here). The fact of the matter is that the South Loop has had spotty restaurants and retail in the past.

For every successful restaurant there seems to be two that struggle. Obviously this is a shortsighted view and in our opinion is natural for any neighborhood in transition. Let's remember that much of the growth in the South Loop was as a result of the housing bubble. The corresponding recession has definitely had a huge affect on the retail and restaurant scene in the neighborhood (and we're not the only neighborhood who has had similar issues).

In three or five years (or maybe ten years if you're being pessimistic) we will see if this growth really "back-fired" as the post indicates. There are signs that the retail and restaurant scene in the South Loop is picking up. Only time will tell if Daley's "food legacy" in the South Loop is shortsighted or in fact visionary.

Sometimes we feel that the vision for the South Loop came from the movie Field of Dreams..."If you build it, he will come".

It's built, let's just hope he (the restaurants and retail) will continue to come.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Open House at the Alderman's New Office

In case you didn't know, now you do (sorry for the late post):

Please join Alderman Fioretti, the 2nd Ward staff, Community leaders, and

2nd Ward Open House Date: Monday May 16th Time: 3pm-7pm

**New Office**
1319 S. State Street Chicago, IL 60605
(ph) 312.263.9273
(fax) 312.583.1704

Limited Parking Available Refreshments Provided by Flo & Santos

for more info email Maritza Garcia maritza.garcia@cityofchicago.org

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Quite a Scene at Mercat a la Planxa

We don't usually go the route of celebrity gossip magazine, but we recently were reading a post from Chicago Eater and got a kick out of the write up about an event in the South Loop at Mercat a la Planxa (638 S. Michigan):

When you get an invitation from Chelsea Handler inviting you to a brunch with Belvedere vodka, it's not one of those things you really have to think about whether you want to attend. So before we really even knew the details, we signed on.

Then we realized it was at Mercat a la Planxa to launch Belvedere's new bloody mary vodka and knew it was going to be a good time. Little did we know it'd be a veritable who's who of Chicago's food and media scene. First, it was co-hosted by Bon Appetit's new editor in chief Adam Rapoport who said he's having a great time at the helm.

The event was called for 11 a.m. and it started filling up quickly. Mingling over fresh bloody marys and another cocktail comprising citrus and mint (as well as the spicy vodka), a robust crew of Chicago chefs, restaurateurs and media folk mingled, including Tony and Cathy Mantuano, Bill & Yvonne-Cadiz Kim, Rob and Kathleen Katz, Amanda Puck, CS magazine's Korey Karnes Huyler, Candace Jordan, Time Out Chicago's Kevin Aeh and John Dugan, Spiaggia exec chef Sarah Grueneberg and her fiance, Jaime Canete, sous chef at Terzo Piano, Michigan Avenue editor Susanna Negovan, John Ross and Chris Pandel from the Bristol, Takashi Yagihashi, Alpana Singh, Charles Joly, Adam Seger, Joshua Pearson, Brad Bolt, Lynn House, Blackbird group's Brian Houstin, Justin Large and Patrick Fahy and so many more.

We don't claim to be connected or very knowledgeable about this scene, but honestly none of the names mean anything to us. We thought that maybe one, two or three would ring a bell...nope not one.

Apparently we're out of the know in regard to knowing people.

Gioco: Welcome Back Friend!

Glad to have them back in business...

As a bonus here is a shot we took recently. As you may or may not notice, it appears that Gioco has been given the planters that used to be in front of Red Light (or was it Opera or Marche?). They are in between the trees in the picture. The trees also got some new lights shinning on them. You know we love decorative lighting....

Friday, May 13, 2011

Will Chains Oust Local Retailers from South Michigan?

An interesting article in Medil Reports discussing how chains are hurting local retailers on South Michigan. By South Michigan they're not talking about the South Loop's south Michigan, but it's a relevant story and something that is close to our minds in the Sloop:

For 31 years, Poster Plus was one of the premier shops for buying a Chicago souvenir direct from Michigan Avenue.

But this month, the venerable art dealer announced it's moving from 200 S. Michigan Ave. It couldn't come to terms with the landlord, Philadelphia-based BPG Properties Ltd., over a rent increase, according to David Gartler, the store’s owner.

The store is not alone in facing pressure from rising rental rates on South Michigan Avenue. There are at least four empty retail stores between Monroe Street and Congress Parkway, including one adjacent to Poster Plus where a Potbelly Sandwich Works franchise is slated to move in but has yet to begin construction. Tenants say landlords have proven unwilling to come to terms with smaller clients, however stable their business might be.

The looming question is whether well-heeled chains will drive out the locally-owned independent.Landlords contend that Millenium Park and nearby new developments justify higher rent.

Obviously our dynamic is slightly different in the Sloop. We have vacant retail. Not really local retailers getting pushed out by chains (unless you think Winestyles and South Loop Wine Shop getting pushed out by grocery stores falls into this category). Regardless, the common thread is that the prices being asked by the owners seem to be high (or at least that's what we've heard from various people in the Sloop).

Let us know your thoughts...

(Image from Medil Reports)

(Hat tip: Curbed Chicago!)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Some South Loop Real Estate News

Crain's Chicago has two quick blurbs yesterday about two South Loop real estate items:

1212 S. Michigan For Sale
A fund led by local real estate investor Allison Davis has decided to sell a 344-unit apartment building in the South Loop. DV Urban Realty Partners I L.P. has hired the Chicago office of CB Richard Ellis Inc. to market the 30-story tower at 1212 S. Michigan Ave., which the fund bought for $65 million in 2006. The building is 92% leased, according to a CB Richard Ellis brochure. Mr. Davis and a CB Richard Ellis executive did not return phone calls for comment.

Auction for lot on Chicago River, Just North of Roosevelt Pushed Back

A prominent South Loop development site owned by Jos. Cacciatore & Co. Real Estate now is scheduled to be auctioned at the end of the month. Local auction house Diliberto Real Estate Services LLC had originally planned to sell the property, a five-acre-plus riverside parcel just north of Roosevelt Road, in a sealed-bid auction that ended May 5. But the sale has been switched to a live auction May 25, says Frank Diliberto, president of Orland Park-based Diliberto Real Estate. The property's current zoning allows for 1,500 residential units and a half-million square feet of retail space. Mr. Diliberto expects the buyer to focus on apartments, hotels or other unforeseen specialty uses. The opening bid is $8.4 million, he says.

We had a post about the auction site and what you would do with it called Dreaming of Interesting Things for a High Profile Lot in the Sloop...a good read.

(Image from 1212southmichigan.com)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Chicago Code Gets the Ax

According to various sources, the Chicago Code, Fox's cop drama based in Chicago, has not been renewed for a second season. Although the show wasn't very good and had a ton of cheesy one-liners that made you cringe, it was fun watching different areas of the city come to life on the small screen.

There were a ton of different scenes within the show that were shot in the South Loop and it was always fun to see camera crews in the neighborhood. However, it appears that new shows and movies continue to come to the South Loop to shoot, so you will probably still see them around (as evidenced by a post we did last week talking about an MTV pilot being shot down here).

Columbia's Annual Manifest Festival Hits the Sloop this Friday (5/13)

As a resident of the South Loop it's impossible to miss Columbia's impact on the neighborhood. Whether it's the numerous buildings, the students, or the many cultural contributions the college brings to the neighborhood, the school has definitely helped in defining what the South Loop has become.

As a person who did not attend the school and doesn't have an in-depth knowledge of it, it's interesting to hear and read more about their mission. Every year, the school puts on their Manifest Urban Arts Festival that engulfs the neighborhood in elaborate events and an overwhelming explosion of creative thoughts and ideas. This year's event comes to the neighborhood this Friday (5/13) at various locations in the South Loop.

It's not surprising to see unimaginable costumes walking down the street on Wabash or pulsating music and dance reverberating throughout the streets of the Sloop. As an outsider I watch with amazement, but don't get to close because frankly I don't know what is going on.

Well this year, I've had some time to dig a little deeper and learn a little more about what the Manifest festival is all about. Thanks to this video it sums it up (or at least sheds a little light on the mission):

For those intrigued, check out the website for additional information. It seems like it's always an interesting spectacle and if you're walking around the Sloop on Friday you can't miss it!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Shots Around the Sloop: The South Loop's Birther Issue

SouthLoopScott commented yesterday that Trader Joe's put a "coming soon" sign in the window of the new store on Roosevelt and Wabash. The reader joked "So much for the rumors of its demise...". This reminded us of the "birther" controversy with president Obama and we coined it the "The South Loop's Birther Issue". Anyway, here is the sign and can't wait for this store to open:

Mayor Daley Did A Lot for the City and the Sloop

With Mayor Daley's 22 year term as mayor coming to a close, many pundits are weighing in on his legacy. Blair Kamin from the Chicago Tribune has a great piece on his design legacy on the city. It looks at his shinning moments, his mixed results and his flops. With that said, many of the things discussed are in the neighborhood (or very close):
The Shinning Moments as it pertains to the Sloop:
The Museum Campus—It was one of Daley’s predecessors, Jane Byrne, who floated the idea of forming an uninterrupted, pedestrian-friendly green space for Chicago’s three natural sciences museums. But it was Daley who actually carried out the heroic urban planning act of shifting northbound lanes of Lake Shore Drive west of Soldier Field, creating a vast greensward between the Field Museum and the Shedd Aquarium.

The 1998 opening of the Museum Campus taught a broader lesson: If we want to move highways to create more humane cityscapes, we possess the ability and the artistry to do so.

The Mixed Results as it pertains to the Sloop:

Meigs Field—Daley’s 2003 “midnight raid” on the lakefront airport achieved the right ends by the wrong means—a naked display of power one might have expected from a dictator.

Destroying Meigs Field, however, was no great sin. It made perfect sense to convert that precious lakefront land back to the use for which Daniel Burnham had originally intended it—as public parkland, open to the many rather than the few.

The Flops:

Soldier Field—The renovation of the lakefront stadium was Daley’s warm-up for Meigs Field. Except, in this case, the ends didn’t justify the means.

By ramming a financing deal for the stadium’s renovation through the Illinois General Assembly, Daley and then-Gov. George Ryan pre-empted debate about whether the Bears should leave Soldier Field. And now Chicago is stuck with a result so disrespectful of the stadium’s historic features that the federal government stripped the renovated Soldier Field of National Historic Landmark status.

While the stadium’s architecturally dynamic seating bowl is remarkably intimate, there’s a downside to the coziness: Chicago, the National Football League’s second largest market, is saddled with the league’s smallest stadium. A better planning process might have produced a more suitable site and an outcome that would have spared us Soldier Field’s terrible trade-offs.

The article doesn't talk about Daley's role the city planning around the development in the South Loop (instead talking about the housing boom in general), but it's believed he had a big role in the Sloop becoming what it is today. Most Sloopers know Daley lives off of Indiana between 14th and 16th and it's not surprise that Indiana usually gets plowed first when it snows here.

There are also many other things Daley has done that might not be in the Sloop but have impacted us. Millennium park has brought people downtown and has served as a bridge for people to come further south than they used to (for recreational purposes). Anyway, in our opinion he's done some amazing things for the city...Rahm's got some big shoes to fill and hopefully he's up for the task. It seems like he is, but we will see.

Monday, May 9, 2011

"South Loop On the Verge of an Eatery Expansion"

If you've read Sloopin over the past couple of months you will recall that their are a decent amount of new restaurants and bars scheduled to open this year. Today we stumbled across a positive Metromix article in the Red Eye that broadcasted this news:
Census figures show that between 2000 and 2010, the area’s population increased by 74 percent, bringing it to 40,000 residents—who are apparently pretty hungry. With the recent arrival of TLC Cafe, Overflow Coffee Bar and Flavor 180, the South Loop seems to be on the verge of an eatery expansion. “The new residents are mostly upscale and younger—in the age range that will go out to restaurants, bars and clubs,” Thomas said.
Within the article you will find brief updates on some highly anticipated places that are supposed to open this year including:

  • The Scout (1301 S. Wabash) - rumored opening in June

  • Tribute (800 S. Michigan) - rumored opening in June

  • Ryan McCaskey's new restaurant (1639 S. Wabash) - rumored opening in September

  • Trader Joe's (Corner of Wabash and Roosevelt) - rumored opening in Q3 2011

  • Mainstay Hospitality/Kendal Duque restaurant (1416 S. Michigan) - opening TBD

None of these places are a surprise to knowledgeable Sloopers and not a ton of new information in the article. Regardless, it's nice to have a positive article bringing attention to the neighborhoods retail/dinning/night life scene. Let's not get ahead of ourselves, but hopefully this momentum continues and we don't take one step forward and two steps back.

Here are some interesting tidbits in the article that we found interesting:

  • Trader Joe's corporate office said the store is scheduled to open in Q3 of this year

  • No news on the old Grace O'Malley's space...we hope we hear more soon...

  • At McCaskey's restaurant you will be able to watch the chef and sous chef

  • Tribute will have locally made hard liquor (we're hoping they have 18 vodka from South Bend...it's good stuff)

  • The Scout will have 10 patio tables

These are probably the 5 highest profile openings this year in the Sloop, but let's not forget their are some others as well (like the new breakfast/brunch spot at 1400 S. Michigan or Pita Heaven at 1250 S. Michigan). Good news and glad to see some positive attention for the Sloop!

The Danger Zone: 13th and Wabash Intersection

A reader writes about a serious problem that we've noticed as well:
Hey Guys,

I'm a big fan of the blog and this is my first time writing in.

I'm writing you guys in concerns of the corner of 13th/Wabash. Every single day at least one car flies through that stop sign. I have lived in the neighborhood for 2 years now and I have come close to being hit multiple times. At first I thought it was a coincidence, but now that I have relocated to that corner, my window has a perfect vantage point of the intersection.

This is clearly a huge problem, and I know I'm not the only who has witnessed this. Next time you, or anyone is headed to Jewel-Osco just watch for a second and you are guaranteed to see at least one car come barreling past Roosevelt, only to slam on the breaks at the last possible second.

I hope you guys can help. Thanks!
This is definitely something we've noticed. Not sure if a speed bump is the answer or if a blinking stop sign, but it's a valid point.

The alderman is pretty responsive to issues around the neighborhood, so feel free to email him about this issue. Here is his email (ward02@cityofchicago.org). Like we said not sure what the answer is, but hopefully something can be done to avoid an unnecessary tragedy.

(Hat tip: II!)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Flavor 180 Menu is Odd...but the Food is Solid!

In a nutshell, Flavor 180 at 1511 S. State is an eclectic eatery offering fairly original and healthy food at a reasonable price.

It's a standard small restaurant setup: well lit, with a good number of small tables arranged in a store front. The kitchen is open and right behind the counter. Food is cooked to order, and while this makes things take a bit longer than say, McDonalds, the results are worth it. It's probably not some place you'd take a date, but it's fine for lunch or dinner after a neighborhood walk. And, given that they're open until 9PM, it's a place to grab something to bring home on those nights where you don't feel like cooking.

The expression "Changing the Face of Fast Food" graces the menu, and I wondered what that meant. Apparently it means "no beef." That's right, the menu is completely beef-free, though this is never expressly stated. The fare is divided into "naughty" and "nice." "Nice" is mostly turkey or fish based, but very eclectic. Turkey hot dogs (Chicago style), turkey tacos, and turkey bolognese with pasta are a few of the items. On the fish side of things, there are tilapia tacos and grilled salmon.

The "naughty" side of things includes "sweet heat salmon burgers," mango jerk wings, catfish nuggets and the ethnically diverse "Asian cajun turkey burger."

Sides are available, and include turkey spaghetti and turkey nachos, as well as french fries and sweet potato fries.

Chicken is also available but only on two dishes: mango jerk chicken wings and a chicken breast sandwich.

I chose the tilapia tacos. They were served in a soft whole wheat taco, and having been made fresh right in front of me, they were warm and juicy. With a soda, my total came to $7.25 before tax. Staff was very friendly, and they offer catering as well. There are also some Flavor 180 trucks driving about, presumably offering food downtown.

Pricing seemed a bit odd to me. Three turkey tacos is only $6.95, but turkey bolognese with pasta is $13.95.

According to the website (www.flavor180.com), Flavor 180 was started by "an eclectic group of business savvy foodies." While I think the menu is odd, the food was delicious and I'll be back. Pro Tip: there is limited free parking inside the building. Look for a small entry on State St. near the restaurant.

Flavor 180
1511 S. State St

Mon-Sat 12PM-9PM

(A special hat tip to JW for submitting this review as a guest blog post...hopefully he will continue to contribute!)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Shooting Unfortunate on Two Fronts

You never like to hear about shootings (unless it's of a notorious terrorist), but today's shooting in the loop gave our neighborhood an unnecessary black eye in the headlines again.

The headline in the Chicago Sun-Times today reads:
Co-worker finds man found shot dead in South Loop liquor store

We read about the shooting on other websites and obviously this hit close to home, but it was at 234 S. Wabash. This isn't the South Loop. This may be the south portion of "The Loop", but it's not the same.

Something similar happened in February of 2010 when a shooting took place at Cactus Bar & Grill (404 S. Wells). In our mind this isn't in the Sloop, but it's more debatable than 234 S. Wabash.

We're not trying to invoke a boarder discussion again, we just hate seeing a headline like this bringing negative attention and perception to the neighborhood.

Have $5 for Food? A New Restaurant Concept Might be Your Answer

An interesting read on Chicago Magazine's website about a new concept at the Blackstone Hotel:

It’s Five Somewhere
Fives are wild at Bodega N. 5 (Blackstone Hotel, 638 S. Michigan Ave.; 312-765-0524), the newly rebranded downstairs lounge at Mercat a la Planxa. For breakfast and lunch, counter-service sandwiches such as bacon-egg-cheese and egg–bell pepper will cost $5 each. Coffee will be served in nifty French press–style disposable cups (which are just cool, not 5-related). After 5 p.m., the Mercat menu will be available, but in keeping with the quinary theme, cocktails, beer, and wine will all go for $5. Steve Serdar, the general manager, says Bodega will open in late May (we humbly suggest the 25th, which would be, of course, 5/25 = 5/5*5). We’re thinking they should go all out and add nickel-plated railings and Abe Lincoln portraits.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Indoor Skate Park Could be Coming

We received numerous emails from readers yesterday about an indoor skate park potentially coming to the South Loop. The sun-times and myfoxchicago have stories on the topic:

Skateboarders wishing to gleam the cube any time of day regardless of the weather outside might soon have their chance.

Presiding over his final City Council meeting Wednesday, Mayor Daley introduced an ordinance that calls for selling — for $1 — four city-owned parcels from 1600 to 1752 S. Clark to the Chicago Park District. The properties include a building that will be transformed in to the city’s first indoor skate park.

“I’m very, very happy with that. It’s right on the corner of 16th and Clark. It’s gonna be an indoor park and it’s gonna be fabulous for skateboarders. Really,” the mayor said. “It’s gonna be open 24 hours-a-day. A lot of young people work at night. They get off at one or two o’clock in the morning. Of course, they want to skate around the city. So, this will be a great indoor facility. It’ll be the only one of its kind in the country. It’ll be a public park. It’s fabulous.”

It would be good for this area as it doesn't get much foot traffic currently. There seems to be issues with how this will be funded, but it would be a nice complement to the recently renovated soccer fields just to the west. We will see...TIF funds anyone?!?!?

(Hat tip: SC, MW, RAF!)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Roosevelt Road Serves Neighborhood Well

"Underemployed" Filming in the Sloop

A reader writes:

I was driving down South State Street today just north of Cermak (between Reggie's and the post office) and there were tons of trailers lining the streets. They looked a lot like the type of trailers they bring in when a movie is being filmed. Do you know of any details on this?

We didn't find anything about this on beforethetrailer.com, but another blog (South Loop Connection) has a post on the topic. It appears that MTV is filming a new comedy called "underemployed":

MTV is prepping its next pilot - a single-camera comedy about 5 twentysomethings in Chicago from Dirty Sexy Money creator Craig Wright.

We also saw some trucks on Harrison and Wabash yesterday, so maybe they were all over the South Loop.

(Hat tip: EW!)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Vote to Bring Wow Bao to the Sloop

A reader recently emailed us:

Wow Bao is asking fans on their Facebook page where they should open another location.

Wouldn't it be great if we could get one in the South Loop? The have one of my all time favorite breakfasts (a rice bowl with eggs, bacon and spinach) and Intelligentsia coffee. They also have great dinners and treats and would be the ideal less expensive fare for college students and condo owners alike!

Please get people on board!

Here is the link so help represent the Sloop. We like the restaurant's Asian buns and it would definitely be a great addition to the hood. Our friends at Uptown Update already have their readers voting, so hurry up and vote!

(Hat tip: RT!)

Vehicle Crashes into Manny's Deli

In case you missed this story in the Trib yesterday:

Chicago police are investigating an incident in which a car apparently crashed into the front window of Manny's Deli Saturday morning, then drove off. Police believe it happened between 2:45 and 3:20 a.m. April 30. A delivery truck arrived at the deli, 1141 S. Jefferson St., and the driver noticed a shattered window, said Chicago Police Officer Anne Dwyer.

(Hat tip: ND!)

South Loop Elementary School Plans Open Forum

A reader writes:
South Loop Elementary School Plans Open Forum

The Local School Council (LSC) of South Loop Elementary School invites the community to an Open Forum on Wednesday, May 11, 2011, at 7:00PM. The event will be held in the school's main building at 1212 South Plymouth Court. An LSC is the governing body of each individual Chicago Public School.

It is responsible for three main duties:

  1. approving how school funds and resources are allocated

  2. monitoring the annual School Improvement Plan

  3. evaluating and selecting the school’s principal
As the South Loop School LSC reviews it primary responsibilities, it desires input from all of the stakeholders of the school community. This Open Forum will provide the opportunity for parents and community members to voice suggestions, praise, and concerns so that South Loop School will continue to improve. South Loop Elementary School is a diverse school with over 700 preschool-8th grade students.

Located in the heart of Chicago’s South Loop, the school serves families within the neighborhood attendance area and throughout the city of Chicago through its Regional Gifted Center, Fine Arts Magnet Cluster Program, Early Childhood Center, and Community School. While South Loop School has different programs, it works to build bridges across them to strengthen and unite the school community.

Monday, May 2, 2011

When Charitable Organizations Go to Far...

Not sure we echo these thoughts, but can see why it would be frustrating for some:
Hello Sloopin,

Thought I would reach out to you to get your thoughts about the increasing number of charitable organizations hanging out at the intersection at Wabash & Roosevelt. In the last few weeks I've encountered Planned Parenthood, Human Rights Campaign and today, the Red Cross. It has become annoying for me to walk through the intersection on a daily basis and be aggressively pursued for donations.

Today, I was double teamed by the Red Cross as I made my way to Jewel. At the northeast corner I was able to get by but then as I made my way through the southwest corner I was pursued again. On my way back, the same again. This time I caught one spitting on our sidewalk. Do you know if there are any regulations or licensing requirements for these fundraisers? I deal with it often while in the loop for work but having to contend in my own neighborhood has pushed me to my limit. Maybe I'm a

We don't know what the regulations are, but imagine there are some. Does anyone know the policy? Or have a link?

UPDATE: the reader heard the following from the alderman's office:

I did hear back from the Alderman with a suggestion I call 911 if they block the intersections or spit. I thought that was excessive. They don't need any licensing since it falls under free speech.
(Hat tip: LH!)