Monday, October 31, 2011

More Movement Inside Old Grace O'Malley's?

We haven't heard much information about the old Grace O'Malley's space and what we do hear seems to be unfounded rumors (see rumor about Italian restaurant moving in).

However, that's not going to stop us from hoping something is coming. Curious Sloopers have been whispering to us that they continually see new "small" things going on at the space. This might not mean much, but in our mind it's still worth posting about.

One Sloopster, noticed garbage and wood (presumably the bar) being unloaded out the back of the space and into a dumpster. Does this mean they're cleaning up or tearing down to make way for new finishes?

Another Sloopster amazingly noticed a small detail about the windows in the front of the building on Michigan. It appears that there are now additional pieces of paper covering the windows to prevent people from seeing in.

Finally, there are new flowers in the flower planters just under the windows. Peculiar if you ask us. Why would they now put in flowers? The winter is about to come.

Anyway, this might not mean much, but it appears that Sloopsters are on the lookout and want to see something open in the space soon!

(Hat tip: NS!)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Burger Point Set to Open on November 4th

We recently received an email from a reader who noticed some people outside of The Burger Point (1900 S. Sate):

Hey Sloopin,

I just walked by The Burger Point at 1900 S. State. There were about a dozen people in there and I didn't want to wait in line, so I grabbed a menu and will try it for lunch tomorrow.

The menu says 'limited soft opening menu' so it will probably be tweaked. The burgers all sound unique and they claim to only serve all natural beef. I was hoping to see a bison burger, but as of right now they do not offer one. No chili on the menu, either. They list 10 different sauces for their wings. Fries come either russet potato or sweet potato. Sorry no interior pics, but I scanned and attached the menu (see


With that said, we did some internet sleuthing and found an official opening date via their Facebook page:

The moment is finally here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Grand Opening is set for November 4th 2011!!!! We are so excited! Thank you for all the well wishes and cheers! We hope to see all of your friendly faces soon! To our Facebook fans tay tuned for special offers and tastings only for you!
Looking forward to this one!

(hat tip: JR!)

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Sloop View from the Auditorium Building

An interesting view of the Sloop, by Lee Bey's Beyond the Boat Tour blog on WBEZ:

The Adler & Sullivan-designed Auditorium Building has complemented the streetscape and skyline since 1889.

And looking out on the city from the top of the tower that crowns the 122-year-old landmark (and home to Roosevelt University), the building returns the favor. Nineteen stories above the corner of Congress and Michigan, it's a view few get to see--but, man, is it a good one. The above photo looks south and you can see the EL snaking down the right side of the photo; the Congress Hotel is on the left. In the distance you can see the residential towers along Roosevelt Road seven blocks south.

(Image from Lee Bey)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sold! Investors Buy Old Land Where X/O was Supposed to Go

It's been awhile since we've heard about the controversial X/O building that was supposed to be built on Prairie Avenue, but yesterday we read an article in Crains about new owners buying this land:

A joint venture between Golub & Co. and Sandz Development Co. has taken over the site of a controversial South Loop condominium project that never got built, a property likely to sit fallow for a while longer as the developers figure out what to do with it.

The venture took title to the parcel at 1712 S. Prairie Ave. last week, more than two years after the condo project’s developers were hit with a $20.2-million foreclosure suit, county records show. The developers, Keith Giles and Jerry Karlik, relinquished the site through a so-called deed-in-lieu of foreclosure.

“Basically, it’s a long-term land play,” says Golub Executive Vice-president Lee Golub.

Condos are no longer an option amid an overbuilt South Loop market, but many downtown developers have turned to apartments amid rising apartment occupancies and rents. The venture could also just wait for South Loop land values to rise and then sell the parcel to a developer.
Nothing to get that excited about. From the sounds of it, this could be an investment for the future.

(Hat tip: Curbed Chicago!)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Where is the Best Place to Meet Women in the Sloop?

While Sloopin isn't shifting its focus to be a hyper-local, we thought readers might be able to help a new potential Sloopin resident:

Hey Sloopin-

I stumbled upon your website as I am moving to Chicago and am thinking about moving to the “Sloop.” Couple of questions. Where is the best place in the “Sloop” to meet women? What are “Sloopin” women like? Also, I am going to be living close to Donna’s cafĂ©… It looks cute… Thoughts on if it’s a good place to meet people?

Let him know your thoughts, but please keep it clean.

Also, for some reason, this video popped into our mind when we read this readers email, enjoy:

(Hat tip: EB!)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Wok Out Walks Out of the Sloop

Upon a recent trip to State street, we realized that Wok Out (823 S. State) has apparently turned off the lights for good. The fast food Chinese restaurant never was particularly busy, so it's not super surprising to see this happen.

We never made it to the restaurant and judging by the Yelp reviews we didn't miss out. They have a measly 2.5 stars out of 5. Not exactly anything to write home about.

While most of the other businesses in this complex appear to be doing relatively well (Lou Malnatti's just expanded and XSport and Jimmy Greens seem to be constantly busy), this is the third restaurant to close up shop at this retail spot.

For those who have been around awhile, you probably remember Ufood (which was a chain associated with Healthy eating and George Foreman). Ufood quickly changed to The Grill which also didn't last very long either. Our guess is that these restaurant concepts were more flawed then the location.

Do you Sloopers have any ideas as to what might succeed in this spot?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Construction Crews Spotted in Old WAMU Space

A reader writes:
Hey Sloopin!

Has anyone heard anything about what is happening in the old WAMU bank building at Michigan and 16th?

Construction crews have been working on the interior of the building over the last week. Is something going in to that location? Also, on the opposite corner from that (old Curves space), I saw construction crews doing something in that space today also. Please put your sleuths on the case!

(Hat tip: AB!)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

South Coast Sushi Adds Lounge

We're big fans of South Coast Sushi (1700 S. Michigan Ave.) and upon a recent visit we noticed that they finally got their chairs for their new lounge. We've been hearing about this lounge for sometime now and it looks to be pretty cool. The lounge is full of funky chairs and is located at the front of the restaurant.

Definitely a different feel and a different space for the Sloop. We're not sure if it will really catch on as a place to hangout and get a drink, but we hope so. We will see.

Friday, October 21, 2011

East-West University to Build Dorm on South Wabash

Roosevelt Universities Vertical Campus has added some new flair to the Chicago and South Loop skyline (which is a beautiful building if you ask us), so that's why we were excited to see a post on Curbed Chicago yesterday talking about another "vertical dorm" being built by East-West University on South Wabash:
Buried in a Tuesday Sun-Times article, is a bit about East-West University announcing plans for a 17-story dorm building at 825 S Wabash. Reliable sleuth
Spyguy, over at SSP, cast a brighter light on the info with renderings from architect Holabird & Root. According to the Sun-Times and East-West's own literature, the building will room 220 students, with space for an auditorium, gym, food court, and library. Some basic green features are thrown in (can you say PR?), and the University claims to be striving for LEED certification. Efficient heating and cooling systems and a green roof are the main components. Responding to student demand, this will be the first on-campus housing.

This is absolutely fantastic news! There are a lot of high profile vacant lots along South Wabash and a dorm will only add to vibrancy of the neighborhood. Supposedly construction will start in December and be completed for the 2013 school year.

(Image from Curbed Chicago)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

One Museum Park West Set for Foreclosure?

In case you missed this story earlier in the week, one of the Sloop's most prominent highrises is set for foreclosure according to Chicagobusiness (via Curbed Chicago):

Word's been out a little while now that the South Loop's One Museum Park West Tower has had great difficulty closing on units. So it comes as no huge surprise that the developers, Gerald Fogelson and Ronald Shipka Sr., the brains and brawn behind
the Central Station mega-project, are facing probable foreclosure action from Bank of America, to whom they owe $125 million. According to Crain's, this would be the largest foreclosure since the market bust four years ago. One Museum Park West, a 54-story high rise at the edge of Grant Park, had sold only 22% of its 298 units through the second quarter.
(Hat tip: DP!)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Cermak Green Line Station to Open in 2014

We've been covering talks about a new El stop somewhere South of Roosevelt for sometime now and that's why we were excited to hear about some new news last week in the Chicago Sun-Times:

The new $50 million Green Line station would stretch from 23rd to Cermak between
existing stations at Roosevelt and 35th.

It would serve McCormick Place, the newly-designated Motor Row entertainment district and a residential population almost certain to grow with more “transit-oriented” development.

The station would have direct transfer connections to westbound buses and three entrance points to serve different sets of riders: neighborhood residents; Motor Row patrons and conventioneers walking two blocks over from McCormick Place.

Construction is expected to begin in 2013 and be completed in late 2014, using congestion fee funding and money from the surrounding tax-increment-financing (TIF) district.

This is welcomed news for many of us who think that the area south of 16th isn't served very well by the El (people living down there have to take a bus or hike it to one of the red line stops at Roosevelt or Chinatown).

On many fronts this appears to be a no-brainer as outlined in the points above. From the city's standpoint the McCormick Place angle has to be alluring. From a local residents perspective, the likelihood of this drumming up additional development around the stop is also enticing.

However, an article in the Chicago Journal last week discusses Alderman Fioretti's desire to have a new stop at 18th instead of Cermak:

But Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) says he’d rather see a new station built at 18th Street on the Green Line first, rather than at Cermak. That station would be closer to the center of population in the South Loop.

While he’s spent a lot of time and energy lately trying to get more development down near Cermak — particularly, turning South Michigan Avenue into an entertainment district between Cermak and I-55 — it’s going to be a while until that area gets more
settled, he said. There’s also already a station at Cermak on the Red Line, just
two blocks away.

“I still want the 18th Street station, where the citizens are,” Fioretti said. “I think the first place to go is to serve the people in the neighborhood.”

However, he said that the CTA had recently told him there were issues with putting a station at 18th Street, namely that there wasn’t enough track for the train to accelerate and stop on either side of a potential platform.

This is the first time we've heard about technical issues at 18th and if that's the case, it might be hard to press forward. Regardless, the 18th street El stop would seem more logical for a couple other reasons. One, it could serve both the Orange and Green Lines (which might mean more people frequenting South Loop and our neighborhood businesses) and it also would provide a better way of accessing Soldier Field and the lake from the South (by walking across the footbridge at 18th).

Anyway you look at it, this is generally good news for the Sloop. An El stop South of Roosevelt will only help the are develop.

It's fun to debate. So what do you prefer...Cermak or 18th?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Alain's Moving into 1355 S. Michigan

We've posted about some movement inside the retail space at 1355 S. Michigan (old Entourage Man space) a couple of months ago and now more information is starting to emerge. Israel Indonje, who is best known for sacking quarterbacks a couple blocks East of this space, will be tackling a new project with Alain Njike according to the Redeye:

When you’re talking about dining and hear the name Alain, it’ll probably be assumed you mean Alain Ducasse, the famous French chef with restaurants around the world. But right now, we’re talking about Alain Njike, the chef of Alain's, a new restaurant slated to open in November in the South Loop.

If the name doesn’t ring a bell, here’s another that might: Israel Idonije. Yes, the defensive end for the Chicago Bears is Njike’s business partner in the restaurant at 1355 S. Michigan Ave., just a few blocks away from Soldier Field. We talked to Njike by phone to learn more about his background and what’s to come at Alain’s.

So what can we expect to see at this new spot?

Njike describes his cuisine as contemporary American with a touch of Southern. “There is one dish we call a savory souffle, like a macaroni and cheese souffle. You can come in and have one souffle as an appetizer. We also going to have a lot of African American items like blackened catfish, shrimp and grits.” The restaurant will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, and supporting Midwest farms is also a priority, says Njike. “We’re trying to go back to organic. We try to stay away from all the chemicals and make healthy food. … We don’t try to reinvent the wheel, but we try to use fresh product.”
Sounds like a great addition to this corner. The Chicago Firehouse has been a little lonely over the years and now with Alain's moving in across the street, it will make the corner of 14th and Michigan more lively.

(hat tip: NM!)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Shots Around the Sloop: Luck of the Bears

A reader writes:

Love your website.

Wanted to send along a pic I took from my balcony at 1629 S Prairie last week after some rains came through. It foreshadowed a nice Bears win (Carolina panthers game)...

(Hat tip: GH!)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Join Alderman Fioretti to Clean Up the Sloop Tomorrow!

If you're looking for something to do tomorrow, here is a great event our Alderman is putting on:
Save the Date: Saturday, Oct. 15

2nd Ward Fall Clean & Green

Alderman Bob Fioretti (2nd) invites you, your family and your organization to join him in volunteering for his fall, biannual, 2nd Ward Clean and Green activity on Saturday, Oct. 15, beginning promptly at 10 a.m.

What is a clean and green? That is where you can tackle the litter or weeds that you have always wanted to. Neighbors, active dog owners, Scouts, friends and local businesspeople work together to pick up trash, pull weeds, paint out graffiti and do various block beautification projects.

It can be as simple as bending over and picking up the litter that others carelessly leave behind or it can involve your hosting a site or coordinating the participation of an organization to which you belong.

Join your neighbors, business leaders, community organizers and church congregations to help make a big difference in our neighborhoods. As the saying goes, we are all in this together. The ward is our neighborhood so let's keep it clean!

Please join forces with us at one of the following locations:

Grant Park

Balbo and Columbus Drives

Monkey Bar Gym

2255 South Michigan Avenue

Please call or email Ms. Beth O'Mara at (312) 263-9273 or beth.o' to sign up individuals or groups and to make arrangements to connect with our coordinators at one of the above locations.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Chicago/South Loop Needs to Embrace its Music History

We recently stumbled upon an interesting article in the Chicago Tribune about Alderman Fioretti's vision to turn Motor Row into "Music Row" (or if you're like us, you would prefer "Record Row"). There has been a lot of discussion over the past couple of months about the subject and this time, the Chicago Tribune editors weigh in:

When it comes to great American music, the Second City might as well be called the Seventh City.

Chicago has a thriving music scene with scores of jazz, blues, folk and rock clubs. But Nashville, Memphis, New Orleans, Austin, Detroit, and even Kansas City, Mo., seem to have embraced their music heritage more successfully than Chicago has through cultural programming, historical districts and ambitious promotion.

"Music City USA"? Nashville claimed that title in the 1950s, for good reasons. But as much as we love the Grand Ole Opry – and Motown, Dixieland, the Delta Blues and K.C. jazz – the music crown should belong in the toddlin' town, once the home of Benny Goodman and Earl "Fatha" Hines and Jelly Roll Morton and Muddy Waters and Junior Wells and Steve Goodman and John Prine and … well, you get the idea. We've had it all and should celebrate that.

So we want to support Ald. Bob Fioretti's efforts to revitalize a small stretch of South Michigan Avenue known as "Motor Row" into an entertainment district commemorating the great music history that rose up alongside the auto showrooms of yesteryear.
We echo these thoughts and hope the momentum continues for this initiative. Chicago has an amazing music history...let's own it!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Marble Slab on the Verge of Closing?

A reader writes:


My wife just shared this message with me from a South Loop moms

Hi everyone,

I was just speaking to the owner of Marble Slab (1241 S. Michigan Ave.) today and he was telling me that they may have to close shop due to lack of business. Now I don't know about you, but I'd like to see them stay as well as all the other businesses in the south loop. So please show your patronage and pass this along to other south-loopers. We need to help our local businesses out!

Best Regards,
(another South Loop business owner)
We've heard this rumor before, but maybe there is more validity to it this time. It's getting colder, so it's natural for them to close in the winter, but hopefully they will open back up in the spring.

(Hat tip: GB & DF!)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Gushing About Two Restaurants in Printers Row

From our contributor Dick McFiddle:

My time in the south loop, specifically, printer's row has seen many new restaurants hit the scene. All have been given an equal chance, and my wife and I definitely have our favorites -- and our black list. But this isn't about our black list, its about two of our favorite dishes in the hood at two of our favorite spots.

As avid beer drinkers and borderline connoisseurs, we have been drawn to the taps of Hackneys (733 S. Dearborn) and Villains (649 S. Clark). As the seasons change, villains menu has as well-- with additions like the new bison burger. The bison burger is a deliciously sourced patty with melt in your mouth sauteed onions. If you haven't had this burger and you live in the south loop you are missing out-- and if you haven't had any of their burgers you have missed out. Not to mention, the very friendly owners of villains (and citizens of printers row) maintain a nice collection of rare draft and bottle beers that are difficult to find elsewhere in the city.

When we need a break from Villains we end up at Hackney's, everyone loves their famous burgers, but we have come to believe after many years of research that Hackneys has the best nachos in the south loop and maybe even the entire city. Baked in the oven, no chip left naked, with a trio of sour cream, guac, and salsa, the black bean and chicken nachos are a meal in and of themselves. So here's to these printer's row staples -- Hackney's and Villains.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Shots Around the Sloop: Lake Shells

A reader writes:
Who needs an ocean to gather shells and beach glass? These were picked up at the 12th St. Beach 9/27/2011

(Hat tip: JN!)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Chicago Marathon and the Street Closures

We love the Marathon, but in case you don't and think it's a headache because of the commotion (those constant bells ringing on Michigan Avenue in the morning are a little annoying) we wanted to a) remind you about the event and b) ensure you have a link to the street closures and when they're happening.

Michigan Avenue, Roosevelt and Columbus are really the only major streets in the Sloop that are technically closed for the Marathon. This is from 7am - 2:30pm. For the course and other closures click here.

What to Do for Halloween in the Sloop?

A reader writes:

I was wondering when you will start posting information on Halloween events in the South Loop.


Well we don't have many specifics in regard to Halloween, so figured we would open it up to the readers to share what they do.

We know there are some Halloween Pop-up Stores (one at 9th and Wabash) and we know various organizations and businesses around the Sloop have events. For instance the Prairie District Neighborhood Alliance recently sent us a newsletter:

  • Annual Howl-O-Ween Pet Costume Contest and Party, Thursday, Oct 27

  • Annual Children's Halloween Party, Sunday, Oct 30

  • Family Halloween Parade & Neighborhood Trick or Treat, Monday, Oct 31

  • Chicago Park District Annual Pumpkin Patch, Saturday, Oct 15 at Chicago Women's Park & Gardens

Any readers know of anything else?

(Hat tip: DR!)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

WBEZ Looks at "Little House on Prairie"

WBEZ has a great post on their website about a lonely, historic house on the 2100 block of South Prairie and attempts to make it a landmark:

A 121-year-old remnant of the old Prairie Avenue neighborhood--the place where the city's 19th century upper crust once lived--could be headed toward landmark status this week.

Staff from the Historic Preservation Division of the city's department of Housing and Economic Development will ask the landmarks commission to recommend preliminary landmark status to the Harriet F. Rees House, 2110 S. Prairie. The commission meets Thursday afternoon at City Hall.
If you've ever been down there, the house sticks out like a sore thumb. It's a beautiful building and we would really like to see the landmark status go through.

What are your thoughts on this story? We wish the other mansions were still around...

(Image from: WBEZ and Lee Bey!)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Surprised by Urban Re-Mix

Yes, Urban Re-Mix (1466 S. Michigan) has been open for a couple months now and Yes we've been a couple times since then, but this past Saturday we thought it would be a good idea to bring some out of town guests to the shop to peruse. For those who aren't familiar with Urban Re-Mix it's an "upscale home furnishing consignment store".

Back to our recent trip. Not only did our guests love it, we loved it more than any other time we've been. For some reason it seemed like the shop had a plethora of amazing, unique and beautiful pieces. There was a oil painting of a street scape outside of Paris' Moulin Rouge. Some super comfy couches that we could have slept on for the afternoon. Of specific interest to us was the amazing amount of wood tables and cabinets. Good wood ain't cheap, but these pieces seemed reasonable priced (which also surprised us in a good way).

Anyway, just wanted to give a shout-out to Urban Re-Mix. Well done. We will be back soon.

Now if we only could get some more space in our South Loop condo...

(Hat tip: CS & TH!)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Cheap Trick Entertainment Venue Coming to "Music Row"?

A South Loop rich issue of Chicago Journal this past week had a very interesting article stating that Cheap Trick, a Chicago band from the 1970s, is planning a new entertainment development on the new "Music Row" on Michigan Avenue:
One of Illinois’ best-known rock acts is planning to set up shop on South Michigan Avenue, opening a museum and concert venue in Motor Row.

Cheap Trick, the band from Rockford that rose to prominence in the late 1970s, is planning on rehabbing an old Buick dealership at 2245 S. Michigan Ave. and turning it into their Chicago home, according the real estate company that says they’re working on the deal.

The article goes onto state that there will be a museum featuring various rock memorabilia as well as a fully functional music venue. This is amazing news for this area as it will be the first full time entertainment option for this stretch of Michigan Avenue.

We've heard whispers of this in the past (see comment section of old Sloopin post here), but this is the first time we've seen anything this concrete. We imagine there will still be some hurdles to jump over, but hopefully this is real.

In honor of the city wanting you to love "Music Row" we thought this Cheap Trick song might get you in the mood:

(Hat tip: SoloMotorRow!)

Monday, October 3, 2011

A Quick Note to Say Thanks

Dear Sloopin Readers,

Well here we are...Monday, October 3rd!

Amazingly it's been over three, enjoyable years of bringing Sloopin to you (see our first post from September 27th, 2008). Through the years there have been some highs (see post "November 4th Revisted") and lows (which we don't really need to discuss right now). Anyway, just wanted to pause and say thanks to all the readers of Sloopin.

As we've said before, you make this worthwhile and enjoyable. Thanks for all your tips, pictures and comments...keep them coming.

One more thing to note. We had a minor redesign to the site last week. It seems to have gone down without a problem. If you notice something let us know. Hope everyone enjoys some of the minor improvements.

Best Regards,

Sloopin Crew

Sunday, October 2, 2011

At 2-2, Bears Have Some Work To Do...

The Pack is back to defend (and looking good) and Detroit (yes...Detroit) also looks impressive. Hopefully the Bears prove us wrong: