Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Chicago Tribune Launches Literary Journal Named After Printers Row

When we first read that the Chicago Tribune was launching a new journal called "Printers Row" we got pretty excited. We thought...a new place to get South Loop neighborhood information... yippee, horray (see Zoolander Mugatu reference)!

Well if that's what you wanted you're going to be a little disappointed. However, if you're the literary type the "Printers Row Journal" is something you should probably check out:
At the heart of this first-of-a-kind program is the new 24-page Printers Row Journal, with book reviews, author interviews and stories about Chicago's rich literary scene. Accompanying the journal each week is the Printers Row Fiction Series, a bound booklet of original fiction, much of it by Chicago writers. The journal begins publication Feb. 26.
So there you have it. While it's not what we originally thought it was, it sounds pretty interesting.

If you're not into this stuff, you can still probably appreciate the positive branding that the Printers Row neighborhood will receive from this. In our opinion that's a pretty powerful thing.

(image from Chicago Tribune)

Monday, January 30, 2012

South Loop Designer To Compete on NBC's "Fashion Star"

Barabara Bates, owner of Bates Design (a fashion boutique at 2031 S. Indiana) is throwing her hat into the ring for NBC's "Fashion Star" show according to the Chicago Sun-Times:
South Loop fashion designer Barbara Bates has thrown her stylish hat in the ring for a competition starting this March on NBC.

She’ll be one of 14 designers squaring off on “Fashion Star,” debuting March 13 with host Elle Macpherson.

Bates’ current clientele includes Linda Johnson Rice and gospel star CeCe Winans, but in 1987 former NBA forward Sam Perkins was her first big client.

He introduced Bates to his North Carolina teammate Michael Jordan at a party hosted by former Cub Gary Matthews. Jordan also became a client.
Good luck to Barbara - represent the Sloop!

(Hat tip: SV!)
(Image from Chicago Sun Times)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Acadia and the Park Next Door - What to Expect

A couple of weeks ago we went to Acadia (1639 S. Wabash) and had a great experience. However, we were unsure how the restaurant would integrate with the park that the city was building just next door (the lot North of the restaurant). Well a reader recently sent us this email:
I talked with one of the managers while I was there, I think it was Justin, and he said the plans for the park next door are to split it into three parts. Farthest from the restaurant will be a dog park, in the middle a Jazz park. He said they are going to have a hill on the backside of the jazz area with the hill carved out and a band inside the hill for concerts. The third part closest to the restaurant will be an outdoor patio seating 30 for Acadia.
Sounds good to us. We would assume that the food and pricing will be in line with an outdoor "cafe", but haven't heard that confirmed anywhere yet.

Addition - For those looking for more Acadia information, here is a link and video from the ABC7 Hungry Hound segment:

(Hat tip: AH and Allen!)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Sprout Playroom Begins to Grow at 1454 S. Michigan

Sprout Playroom is planning on opening its doors on the second floor of 1454 S. Michigan (according to their Facebook page):
Sprout Playroom is a unique, eco-friendly, indoor playspace located in the South Loop neighborhood of Chicago. We are committed to providing a healthy and meaningful play experience for children by selecting only safe, sustainable and responsibly made toys and materials for our playspace. Sprout Playroom features recycled cork flooring, low VOC paint, reclaimed wood and is uniquely designed to utilize as much natural light as possible. Beyond our playspace, Sprout Playroom offers a multitude of workshops and classes to assist you in your quest to becoming a more eco-minded parent. Sprout Playroom also features a retail boutique which offers local, organic, fair trade, and recycled products and gifts for children and parents as well as a private event space for parties. We invite you to Love the Earth and Play!
As you can see by the picture below, they're actively working on their space and are shooting for a Spring 2012 opening.
(Hat tip: BT!)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Is the Johnson Publishing Building Worth Saving?

A couple of weeks ago we did a quick post about Johnson Publishing moving North on Michigan Avenue. As many know, Columbia College bought the building. Well we recently read a great post on the Chicago Archetecture Blog about whether or not to save the "ugly" building:
So now comes concrete elephant in the room: Is the old Ebony-Jet building worth saving?

Even if, like me, you’ve never read any of Johnson Publishing’s publications, the company’s contribution not only to Chicago history, but to the evolution of the nation, is formidable. But is the building as iconic as its exiting resident? Probably not. Johnson’s historic icon is the red Ebony-Jet masthead, not some generic Midwestern office building.

The official architecturally-correct term for this building is “brutalist.” But we have to face facts here, the building is just plain ugly. But that’s OK because some people like ugly buildings. Just like certain breeds of dogs are ugly, but they’re still cherished and loved by their owners. Embrace the ugliness.

I know a few people who admire 820 South Michigan for its linear forms, for its strong horizontal members supported by just to rows of vertical beams, and for its welcoming double-height lobby. I’m happy there are people in the world who can appreciate a building on that level. But remove the glass, and what do you have left? A parking garage.

It isn't the most attractive building, but still seems salvageable if you ask us. Should be interesting to see what Columbia does with it.

(Hat tip: WL!)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Everest Named One of the 25 Most Expensive Restaurants in the US

While the upscale restaurant Everest (1 Financial Place) is technically just North of the Sloop, we still like to claim the restaurant. Anyway, not sure if this is something to be proud of, but I guess they're in good company (via Chicagoist):
The website Bundle.com analyzed spending data to determine the 25 most expensive restaurants in America. What has us and others talking is that five of Chicago's restaurants are in the top 10. Leading the charge, unsurprisingly, is Alinea, with an average check total of $736. that places Grant Achatz's restaurant at fourth on the list. Charlie Trotter's is right behind Alinea with an unholy average check of $666. Rounding out the top ten are Tru and Les Nomades ($558 each) and Everest ($546).
(Image from Vegan by Valerie)

Cook County Looks Into Lollapalooza Tax Exemption

If you read Sloopin, you know that we love Lollapalooza. Regardless of our love affair, that doesn't mean that we turn a blind eye towards its operations. A reader recently sent us a link to a post by WBEZ blog, Pop N Stuff, examining some issues with the tax exemption the annual festival receives:
If the city won’t reexamine the boondoggle of a tax break that the Daley administration gave Lollapalooza, even in the midst of an epic budget crisis, the county will.

Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer says she has heard from many of her North Side constituents complaining about the negative impact on their businesses caused by Lollapalooza, and its tax break adds insult to injury. “No tax is paid or reported,” she says. “It’s absurd.”
Gainer goes onto say in the article:
“This wasn’t the way this [the Lollapalooza deal] was supposed to go down,” Gainer says. Initially, it was considered a break to bring a speculative venture to Chicago. But Lollapalooza now has proven to be very successful and hardly in need of a benefit that no other major entertainment event is granted.

"If you don't need that kind of support to survive, it should be given to someone else... some other cultural event," Gainer says. She and her fellow board members approached the state's attorney about how best to rectify the situation, and Anita Alvarez's office recommended bringing the annual review of the Lollapalooza tax abatement under board control.
Definitely agree that they should take a look at this deal and see if it's necessary.

Regardless, whether or not you're interested in the article/controvery, it gives us a chance to re-post a clip from last years lollapalooza of a band trying to learn how to play in front of a big crowd:

(Hat tip: JA!)
(Image from WBEZ)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

New Retail/Residential Development Proposed at Canal and Taylor

Big news on the Roosevelt Road retail front as Chicago Real Estate Daily reports on a new development:
Competition for retail tenants along Roosevelt Road in the South Loop may soon get a little tougher.

The Bond Cos., a Chicago developer, plans to build a mixed-use project with about 200,000 square feet of retail space and as many as 460 apartments between Canal and Clinton streets just north of Roosevelt.

Retail development along the shopping strip has stalled since the real estate crash and recession, but many still believe it's only a matter of time before the area becomes the South Side's answer to the busy North and Clybourn retail district near Lincoln Park.

“We have lots of retail interest at the moment,” says Robert J. Bond, co-founder and president of the Bond Cos. The retailers already there “have been extremely successful.”
For those who have been around for a little while you might remember the South Loop Commons, a similar type of development planned for this piece of land.

So what do you think? Will this happen? Is it good?

It was encouraging to hear that there was "lots of retail interest at the moment". However, if that was the case it seems like Roosevelt Collection would be full. Maybe it will be soon?

(Hat tip: AK!)
(Image from Chicago Real Estate Daily)

CTA Map Overlaid on New York City

So the Roosevelt Stop would be in Central Park...an interesting map on Gapers Block:
Redditor northsider1983 overlaid the CTA on New York City, and vice versa.
(Image from Gapers Block)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Last Chance to See a Buddy Guy Show This Weekend

Every January Buddy Guy, a walking - talking - singing Chicago blues legend, plays a string of shows at his South Loop club, Buddy Guy's Legends (700 S. Wabash).

Well this year is no different. However, this upcoming weekend is the last chance to see one of his shows in 2012. Here is the lineup:
Thursday Jan 26 - Buddy Guy w/ Michael Coleman
Friday Jan 27 - Buddy Guy w/ Linsey Alexander - SOLD OUT!
Saturday Jan 28 - Buddy Guy w/ Nu Blu Band - SOLD OUT!
Sunday Jan 29 - Buddy Guy w/ Eddie Shaw and The Wolf Gang - SOLD OUT!
Based on this link (where you can buy tickets), it looks like the only show with tickets still available is Thursday. We highly highly recommend going if you like live music. Enjoy.

An old video that just makes us smile:

Fioretti's Reward?

In 2007, Bob Fioretti achieved a Chicago first.

By winning election as 2nd Ward alderman, he was the first white politician to take over a ward from a black politician. The 2nd Ward had a special place in African-American political history. The city’s first black alderman, Oscar DePriest, won the seat in 1915. But beginning in the 1990s, white condo owners began to displace blacks in the South Loop. The result was a white alderman. Fioretti ousted Madeleine Haithcock. A year later, he took over the committeeman’s post, when Rep. Bobby Rush stepped down.

On Thursday, Fioretti got his reward for ousting a pair of black politicians: his ward was mapped out of existence. There will still be a 2nd Ward, obviously, but it won’t be in the South Loop. It won’t be the historic 2nd Ward of Oscar DePriest. Instead, the 2nd Ward has become the most abominable monster in the history of Chicago mapmaking. It looks like a digital character in the old video game Tempest. Beginning on the Gold Coast, it wanders west into Lincoln Park, then across the Kennedy Expressway into Wicker Park, uniting neighborhoods that have nothing in common but white voters.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Black Cube Building Could be the Latest High Rise for Higher Education

As we stated in our rundown of the top 11 things of 2011, higher education continues to fuel most of the development in the neighborhood. And not surprisingly it appears that this trend is continuing into 2012.

More university housing could be in the cards for the South Loop. Spyguy, Skyscraper Page's resident super-sleuth, has managed to score a rendering of the latest proposal. The rental tower was designed by Lothan Van Hook DeStefano Architecture LLC and is intended to serve students, faculty, and staff in the area. Its avant-garde design, quite a departure from Chicago's recent crop of buildings, consists of a series of stacked black cubes, each one precariously cantilevered over the one below.
While we're not 100% sure about the location, it looks like it would be on the Southwest corner of Wabash and Van Buren.

Not sure if this will happen, but it definitely would be one of the more interesting buildings to go up in Chicago.

(Image from SpyGuy!)

3 Men Crew Targeting Homes in Dearborn Park Neighborhood

A reader sends us this alert from the Chicago Tribune:
Three people posing as government workers or plumbers have used the ruse to get into houses and steal small items, according to police.

They say they needed to “check the pipes” for “leaks, or other imminent problems,” according to a Chicago Police Department release.

They then walk off with money, keys, jewelry and electronics – “items they can easily carry,” according to the release.

The homes have been targeted in the 900 and 1000 block of South Park Terrace in the Dearborn Park neighborhood, according to police.

All three men are either white or Hispanic with straight black hair, according to descriptions released by police.

One is 5-feet-11 and weighs about 270 pounds and appears to be between 38 and 40 years old.

Another is 30 to 35, 5-feet-3, about 160 pounds, and the third appears about the same age and weighs about 150 pounds. He’s about 5-feet-6.

The three were seen leaving in a white late-1980s or early-1990s van.

Anyone with information is asked to call Belmont Area Detectives at (312) 744-8263.
(Hat tip: ND!)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Shots Around the Sloop: El Stop = ?

Anon 5:23 - good points as many of us live in the 'present', but this stop is about creating the 'future' development on those empty lots, etc.. Take a look at this guys picture of Roosevelt in 2000. There are no Museum Towers, no Columbian Building, no Trader Joes,etc...

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Chicago and New York Chinatown's Face Different Dynamics

A Medill reports article looks at some of the differences between Chicago's Chinatown and New York's Chinatown:
In Chicago, families can choose to stay in the area in newer and more spacious homes or condos, or live in adjacent areas where there are houses within reach financially.

“New York has seen its population move out to the suburbs,” Mah said. “Manhattan is expensive and space is limited. In Chicago, in contrast, there has been a great deal of residential development over the past 10 years or so.”

Friday, January 20, 2012

Greater South Loop Association Meeting Tomorrow at 9am

A Greater South Loop Association meeting is scheduled for tomorrow from 9:00 am to 10:30 am. This will be held at the 1st district police community room at 1718 S. State street.

The agenda is as follows:
9:00 - 9:30am - Meet & greet your neighbors with coffee

9:30 am - Presentation on proposed development near 900 S. Clark - community feedback requested!

10:00am - Alderman Fioretti (2nd ward), Alderman Dowell (3rd ward) have been invited to provide updates.

Unfortunately we won't be there to cover this, however if anyone goes please come back and post a comment to give us the gist (or send an email to sloopin@gmail.com if you prefer).

Give all the recent ward map discussion it should be interesting to hear what Fioretti and Dowell have to say. It would also be good to hear what's going on with 900 S. Clark (last we heard it would be some type of retail building - which was old news).

(Hat tip: AB!)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Approved Ward Map Has Big Implications for the Sloop & Alderman Fioretti

The redrawing of the ward map is a hot topic around the city and today the aldermen approved a new ward map with the vote of 41-8. Most notable is the objection from Alderman Fioretti, who represents most of the South Loop. The Tribune sums it up:
Less than two hours after putting the finishing touches on a new map of the city's 50 wards, the Chicago City Council approved it over the vehement objections of some aldermen whose political futures are imperiled by the redrawn boundaries.
The vote was 41-8, a strong enough majority to avoid putting dueling maps before voters in an election.

But the lopsided approval of the map does not avoid the possibility of a lawsuit, which several aldermen said was inevitable.

At issue were the different population sizes, with some South Side wards having more than 4,000 fewer constituents than their North Side counterparts. Some aldermen said those deviations violated the one-man, one-vote principle.

Ald. Robert Fioretti, 2nd, whose ward was shifted from south and west of the Loop to a ribbon-shaped area south and west of Lincoln Park, decried what he called an unnecessary rush. There's no city election under the new boundaries until 2015.

An attempt by Fioretti and Ald. Nicholas Sposato, 36th, to invoke a routine delay of the vote, in part to give the public a chance to review it, was out-flanked by a parliamentary maneuver.

At one point before the meeting, Fioretti yelled at Maria Guerra, who works in Mayor Rahm Emanuel's Department of Intergovernmental Affairs, as she explained the impending maneuver to him.

"Don't people have a right to see this?" he asked afterward.
It does seem strange that they can just shift an elected official out of the area that voted him into the office. We assume some legal wrangling is next up.

Anyway, somewhat connected and of interest to us is Fioretti's push to turn Motor Row into an entertainment district. It seemed like he had the vision for this, but given the newest developments it seems like this is going to take a back seat as Alderman Fioretti now has to fight for his "south side" life.

(Hat tip: ND!)
(Image from Chicago Tribune)

Square One Shooting for Spring Opening at 1400 S. Michigan

Late in December of 2011, we heard some rumblings and got confirmation that a new "tavern" was moving in at the Northwest corner of Michigan and 14th (1400 S. Michigan). We didn't have a ton of information then, but a reader recently sent us a link to a Metromix post about "Square One":
This South Loop lounge, adorned with 30-foot high ceilings and reclaimed wood floors, will feature a focus on classic craft cocktails--such as old fashioneds and bloody marys--when it opens in spring 2012. Patrons will be able to pull up a seat at the 23-foot cement bar and have the bartender mix up a drink based on their favorite ingredients--or sample vino via wine dispensers that allow you to purchase amounts ranging from an ounce to a glass. Nibbles include cheese pairings, meats and light sandwiches; an area called "the living room," outfitted with a u-shaped couch, fireplace and TV, can be reserved for private parties.
Definitely seems a little different than what we imagined when we heard "tavern", but in reality it seems like a different concept and hopefully something unique for the neighborhood. We've been monitoring the build-out from the outside and from what we can tell it appears that there has been a lot of progress. A spring open seems aggressive, but we hope that happens.

(Hat tip: Anon!)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Papa Johns Coming to NW Corner of Michigan and Cermak

A couple weeks ago we did a small piece about a job posting on craigslist which presumable announced that a Papa John's would be coming to State and Cermak.

We were curious as to where it might be going since there isn't existing space that seemed suitable for Papa John's.

Well according to a comment we recently received a reader found a building permit on Everyblock for a "fast food carryout restaurant" while it doesn't specifically mention Papa John's this location (image above) would make more sense.

(Hat tip: Tony!)

Hyatt at McCormick Place Launches Phase 1 of Expansion

Piggybacking on our story about the CTA Green Line stop our friends at Curbed Chicago had a post yesterday about the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place launching phase 1 of construction:
Per this morning's press release, the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place is kicking off construction of its second tower, a $110M 460-room expansion that brings Hyatt's room total to 1,260. The first of three phases of construction and renovation, the tower expects to open mid-2013. The other phases are slightly more modest, involving a cafe expansion (whoop-dee-do), a renovation of the 800-room building, and a makeover of the 25,000 sf in-house conference center.
Again, good news for the area.

More people = more business = better Motor Row entertainment district.

Anyway, we will have one more quick post this afternoon about the Cermak stretch.

(Image from Curbed Chicago)

Rahm Announces Details About Cermak CTA Green Line Stop

We've seen a bevvy of stories in regard to the Cermak corridor recently and today we're going to devote a couple of post to them.

This $50 million TIF-supported project consists of the design and construction of a new elevated CTA station at Cermak on the Green Line. The station, located in the two mile-stretch between the existing Roosevelt and 35th/Bronzeville stations will provide much needed access to rapid transit for neighborhood residents and businesses. The new station will be ADA-accessible and have station house facilities located at grade level. The platform will be a center-island configuration for an eight-car train with canopy coverage for six cars. The station will also include an auxiliary exit to the north side of 23rd Street.

The design work will begin in March with construction set to begin by February 2013. The 18-month construction project is expected to be complete by July 2014.

This station, which will allow another access point to McCormick Place, is expected to provide a significant boost to the convention industry and help facilitate conventioneers getting downtown quickly and affordably.

This doesn't come as a surprise to loyal Sloopin readers, but it makes it a little more tangible and real when the mayor announces the plan. Although July 2014 seems like a long time away, we imagine this will continue to drive positive momentum for the area (see old Motor Row entertainment district stories) .

We will follow-up with a couple additional posts today on other things in the Cermak area.

(Image from Chicago Tribune)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Acadia Brings an "Experience" to the South Loop

It's Saturday night in the Sloop and it's the "official" opening weekend at Acadia, the new contemporary American restaurant at 1639 S. Wabash. While they've been accepting reservations for awhile now, we called the morning of our desired date to see if we could get in.

Unfortunately everything was booked up from 6 until 9:30pm, but they said they would call us if something became available. Sure enough, two hours later we got a ring from Justin at Acadia and they could accommodate us. Here we go...

As we walked down South Wabash to Acadia, it was eerily quiet. Very little (if any) foot traffic, dark and gritty. Definitely a different feel compared to similar upscale restaurants in the city (i.e. - Gold Coast or Lincoln Park). We kind of like it - made us feel like we knew something others didn't.

But apparently others knew about Acadia as well. The restaurant is very unassuming and incognito from the outside (besides the brand new blue Lamborghini sitting outside its front door - obviously trying to send some sort of signal). Upon entering the restaurant you're greeted by contemporary style and light colors subtly welcoming you. Two women were pleasantly smiling and asked for our names. Almost simultaneously a man appeared and said, "oh yes, glad we could accommodate you". It was Justin, our friend from the phone, seemingly acting like he knew us personally and was genuinely looking forward to us coming (while it was
a little contrived it was welcomed).

We were in an adventurous mood so we wanted to try to get the full "Acadia experience". So we started at the much acclaimed bar area. We opted for one of the specialty drinks which were about $12 a piece. I had the Rum and Kola and my wife opted for some "dreamsicle" concoction. The bar tender immediately went to work on the drinks mixing, straining, twirling, shaking and even using some contraption that made water into soda water.

Although it took some time, once we got our drinks we were satisfied. Both drinks had strong flavors and went down smooth almost as if you couldn't taste any alcohol. The dreamsicle was pretty much what you would think...it tasted like an orange dreamsicle. After the bar we took our drinks to our seats and eagerly looked forward to some grub.

The main dinning area was elegant and simple. Again, a very contemporary design with little decoration. The main design element was something resembling various large metallic bead strands hanging from the ceiling in the middle of the room. It was dramatic, but functional as it broke up the space well.

We were quickly greeted by our waitress who kindly introduced herself and gave us our menus. The menu was pretty straightforward in it's orientation: "first course" and "second course". Each section had about 10-15 dishes and clearly were creatively conceived using unorthodox mixtures of ingredients.

While we had a couple minor questions, we easily and quickly decided to go with a scallop dish (including wheat berries, coconut, butternut squash, dill, lime) and the "risotto" for our first course.
Risotto is in quotations because that's how it appeared on the menu - since it clearly wasn't risotto - here is how Chef Ryan McCaskey describes it on his blog in the test kitchen posts:
This dish is still a work in progress. but for now, it’s a brunoise of yukon potato, mimicking the rice component of risotto. folded into the potato are leeks, truffle, garlic, lemon, chives and creme fraiche. the green apple veil is garnished with shaved truffle, fine herbs, cracked pepper and thyme. some contrasting and textural elements will be added. this dish will epitomize contemporary classic cuisine.
My wife commented that the scallops were the best she's ever had (however, I wouldn't go that far) and the risotto was interesting. Fun texture and definitely a pleasant way to start the dinner.

For the main course we decided on the wagyu beef dish (which included mushroom conserva, herb puree, pommes- maixm, puree, confit) and a bass dish (sorry I can't remember the ingredients). Both dishes were solid. The beef had a big taste and when combined with the various sauces were truly delicious. The bass was very tender and light.

And what meal is complete without dessert? Given that we've been chowing down, we opted to share the roasted pineapple dessert which was described to us as a "playground" of taste and on the lighter side. While we got a kick out of that description, it was good - but not as memorable as the first or second courses.

As typically found at upscale restaurants we were given "complementary" small items between each course. Our favorite was the buttermilk biscuits. Good stuff.

A couple other quick notes to mention:
  • While we didn't have any A-list celebrity sightings, we did dine next to Alderman Fioretti and across the room was ABC7's Kathy Brock
  • The only hiccup was when we initially got to the dinning a room. A man sitting at a table behind us tried to get up and ended up breaking a leg on his chair. It appeared that he slid the chair back on the carpet and it must have gotten caught. He played it off with a chuckle, but the waiters and waitresses seemed terrified.
  • The length of our dinner was about two and half hours (maybe even three hours). However, it didn't seem slow - it had a nice pace.
  • While much has been made about the public park that will be built to the North of Acadia, we're not sure how it will integrate with the restaurant. In it's current state, the restaurant seems too upscale for a public park. Maybe the plan is to offer something cheaper during the day? We will be interested to see what happens with this.
  • It will also be interesting to see how Acadia's business goes. As described above, it's in a league of it's own in the South Loop. Will it have enough consistent business to be successful? If so, maybe this is the "pioneer" restaurant we've been hoping for.
All in all Acadia was a fun experience and something that is unique for the South Loop. While some were comparing it to Gioco, Opera, Room 21, Tribute, Chicago Fire House, Mercat a la Planxa and Custom House in our opinion it's truly a step above those "rivals" (maybe with the exception of Mercat from what we've heard). The service, the preparation, the attention to detail, the ambiance were done much better. Most importantly, the food was great and seemed much more creative than any other option we've seen in the neighborhood.

Keep in mind that the prices all seemed more expensive and the portions weren't going to leave you stuffed (which is probably a good thing). Regardless, this restaurant isn't about value it's about experience. And for us Acadia was definitely a worthwhile (albeit pricey) experience.

(Images from Acadia website)

Monday, January 16, 2012

South Loop Above Average for Renting Price

Real estate prices are always a hot topic for the city and our neighborhood, so we wanted to post a quick blurb about a post we recently read Curbed Chicago about Q4 2011 rents. The data comes from RentJuice and if you're going to rent your place, it's encouraging to see the Sloop above average.

(Image form Curbed Chicago)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Dentist Opening at 1440 S. Wabash (NW Corner of 14th and Wabash)

A reader writes:
A dentist is going to be setting up shop in the heretofore vacant retail space in 1440 S Wabash (corner of 14th place and wabash, NW corner). I toured a condo in that building this afternoon and the real estate broker shared that little tidbit. She estimated that the new retail space would be completed in 7 to 9 months.

Not that I think we need another dentist in the South loop, but that is just what I heard and thought I would pass it along.

On another retail development front, the old Washington Mutual bank building at the Northwest corner of 16th and Michigan is in build-out mode as well. While we haven't heard much about this, it sure looks like a doctor's office (or something similar).

(Hat tip: TS!)

Friday, January 13, 2012

G8/NATO Lock Down for the Sloop: Be Prepared for Crazy

In lieu of our post yesterday about traffic issues caused by President Obama speaking at UIC on Roosevelt, we thought we would post something we just read in regard to the NATO and G8 summit that is scheduled for May 19-21 at McCormick Place:
A large security perimeter will prevent motorists from driving and parking on some downtown streets during the NATO and G-8 summits, but the host committee agreed Wednesday to cover the cost of lost parking meter revenues.

The 75-year, $1.15 billion lease that privatized Chicago parking meters requires the city to compensate the concessionaire — at the newly increased downtown rate of $5.75 an hour — whenever metered spaces are temporarily taken out of commission.

In the case of the May 19-21 event expected to draw President Barack Obama and other world leaders to McCormick Place, that compensation could be substantial.

Specific boundaries will be dictated by the U.S. Secret Service and won’t be known until four weeks before the event. But city officials acknowledged Wednesday that parts of the downtown area would be off-limits to motorists to protect visiting dignitaries.
Yikes! Should be a crazy around the Sloop...be prepared!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Obama Speech Causes Traffic Snarl in the Sloop

If you decided to drive anywhere in the Sloop yesterday afternoon or night, you were probably unpleasantly surprised. Most every street was ridiculously backed up. Why? Chicago's own president was in town and was speaking at UIC on Roosevelt according to Chicago Phoenix:
President Barack Obama visited Chicago for a campaign fundraising spree, including a rally at the University of Illinois at Chicago Forum building Wednesday.

The president evoked his 2008 campaign mantra “Yes we can” during his speech and said he was proud of the change he’s made in his first term, but added that there is
more to be done.

The rally attracted hundreds of supporters to the UIC Forum building, 725 W. Roosevelt Rd., as well as Occupy Chicago protesters, who staged an occupation at the corner of Roosevelt Road and Halsted Street. The president’s visit also snarled traffic
downtown, especially in the South Loop.
So if you were wondering why you couldn't get around in car yesterday there you have it!

(Image from Chicago Tribune)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Johnson Publishing Moving North on Michigan & Out of the Sloop

Back in late 2010 we posted about Johnson Publishing (home of Ebony and Jet magazine) selling their South Loop Michigan Avenue headquarters (820 S. Michigan) to Columbia. As part of that sale, they had 18 months to find a new place to do business.

Johnson Publishing Co. will move its headquarters a few blocks north to the top floors of the Borg-Warner skyscraper at 200 S. Michigan Ave.
So while they're just moving up the street, they're officially moving out of the Sloop (since they will be North of Congress).

We haven't read or heard much about Columbia's use for this building lately, so if you know something please chime in. Otherwise, we will keep our eyes open.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

South Loop CPA - Your Local Source for Accounting and Tax Services

Sponsored Post

Although the tax deadline isn't tomorrow, it's never to early to get a consultation and get the ball rolling. Below is a recent interview we conducted with South Loop CPA (1234 S. Michigan Ave. Suite C):

Why did you decide to open up South Loop CPA in the neighborhood?
I have lived in the South Loop for the past 4 years and over this time I have noticed a significant growth in the number of residents and new businesses in the area. I spotted this as an opportunity to contribute to the development of the neighborhood by providing an accounting and tax service to new residents and businesses.

Why should people come to South Loop CPA instead of a different accounting firm?
The concept of South Loop CPA is to provide our clients with a personalized accounting and tax service coupled with a process that makes accounting and tax easy for them. We sit down with each of our clients to get to know them, understand their needs and their future goals; and we tailor solutions to meet their needs.

Explain why you created the "Receipt Manager" and why readers should be interested?
I have always seen people being disappointed with the tax refund they receive or taxes they owe when they file their tax return. These people don’t realize that they need to plan during the tax year to minimize their tax liability when it comes to filing their tax return.

To meet the needs of these disappointed people, we sit down with each client and develop a customized tax plan so that they are aware of the potential tax deductible expenses and the potential impact on their tax liability. Once we establish a customized tax plan for our clients, we set them up on our “Receipt Manager”. This program helps them to easily and efficiently record and maintain a copy of potential tax deductible receipts. The “Receipt Manager” allows our clients to take a photo of a receipt using their smart phone and email it to a personalized database that will automatically save and file it for them instantaneously. The client does not have to worry about maintaining records using individual receipts, running the risk of forgetting to deduct costs incurred as they failed to save the receipt. It is important for people to maintain records and proof of expenses to confidently deduct expenses on their tax return.

What type of services do you offer?
We offer a wide range of services which include bookkeeping, payroll, company formation, tax preparation and tax advisory services to both business and individual clients. In all of our service lines we aim to make the process easy for our customers and strive to add value for them in the process.

What is your experience?
I am a graduate of the London School of Economics, where I studied Accounting and Finance and have a Masters in Accounting from the University of Notre Dame. I am a licensed Certified Public Accountant, Certified Fraud Examiner and Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist. I have extensive experience in a Big 4 accounting firm, middle market accounting firm, a small accounting firm and a top investment consulting firm. This has provided me with a wide and varying experience in working with different sized clients and assisting them with their various accounting and tax issues.

When is the best time to setup a consultation?
We recommend that individuals contact us at the beginning of the calendar year so we can start planning early in the year and maximize the advantage of any potential tax deductions. We have flexible hours and work around the customer’s schedule including meetings in the evenings or weekends if the customer prefers.

Are consultations free or do they cost anything?
We provide a complimentary initial consultation where we get to know the customer and understand their needs and show how we can add value for them. There is no obligation and we would recommend the customer give us a call for a chat about how we can help at the very least. What do you have to lose! You can contact us at 312-846-1110 or you can visit our website at www.southloopcpa.com

Gerrymandering the Sloop (cont.) - Public Meetings

One of the more interesting things bound to happen in 2012 is the redrawing of the ward maps (see old post here). Well yesterday, we got an email from Alderman Fioretti notifying the public of some upcoming hearings in regard to this topic:
You are hereby notified that the Chicago City Council COMMITTEE ON COMMITTEES, RULES AND ETHICS will meet on the following dates, times and locations in order to hold public hearings with two more dates yet to be determined on the City of Chicago's Redistricting Process:

Wednesday, January 11, 2012
DePaul University
Cortelyou Commons
2324 N. Freemont Street, Chicago
6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Thursday, January 12, 2012
Progressive Baptist Church
3658 S. Wentworth Avenue, Chicago
6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
We won't be able to attend, but if anyone else does, please let us know if you find out anything interesting. Regardless, we will keep our eyes open for pertinent information on this topic.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Alain's to Open at the end of January?

Last week we mentioned that we're interested to see/hear what happens with some of the new retail/restaurant/bar projects on South Michigan. Well we recently read this blurb on a Tribute article about Alain's (1355 S. Michigan):
The Bears’ Israel Idonije is throwing his, um, helmet into the restaurant industry. The co-host of food show “Game Time Dine” (which aired for two seasons on Comcast SportsNet) is scheduled to open Alain’s in the South Loop at the end of January, according to a spokesperson for the restaurant.
We noticed that the work stop sign was off the door, but this is the first we've heard about the restaurant hoping to open at the end of January.

Seems aggressive, but hopefully it happens.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sloopin Posts Are Again Available on Facebook and Twitter

We've gotten a lot of emails and comments about our posts not showing up on our Facebook and Twitter pages. Sorry for that (Facebook changed some of their policies/settings recently...grrrr Zuckerberg).

Anyway, for those of you who prefer to consume Sloopin via social media, you again should be able to see our latest posts through these channels starting now.

Since we're on the subject of social media. If you don't currently "like" or "follow" Sloopin, we can always use more fans. The following links should lead you to the proper places if you desire:

Finally our growth has mostly been fueled through our readers, fans and followers spreading the word. So first off, thanks for that! Second, this is our plea to ask you to continue to spread the news about Sloopin to your friends or people who might be interested in the gospel of the South Loop.

Happy Sloopin!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Free Days at the Shedd Aquarium in January

Every year the museums in Chicago usually offer some "free days" and since our neighborhood has some of the city's most famous, we thought you might be interested in this news courtesy of the trib:
Chicago's Shedd Aquarium is kicking off the new year with several days of free admission for Illinois residents.

General admission to the aquarium's original galleries will be free from Jan. 25-28, and tickets to special exhibits will be discounted.

Attractions include the Caribbean Reef, Amazon Rising and the temporary exhibit on Jellies.

Free admission will also be offered on several other days, including Monday (1/9) and Tuesday (1/10) of next week.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Chicago Chinatown Celebrates its Centennial

One of our favorite parts about the Sloop is its proximity to Chinatown. It's quite fun to soak in the buzz on a summer day by wandering around Wentworth and Cermak. Sometimes it truly feels like you're in a different world. Anyway, the Daily Herald recently had a nice piece about Chinatown and it's 100th year in Chicago:
2012 brings the Year of the Dragon, and Chinatown is gearing up for a major celebration.

Of the 12 symbols in the Chinese zodiac, the dragon is the most powerful, representing wisdom, strength and superiority. That's fitting, as this year marks the 100th anniversary of Chicago's Chinatown, with the community to celebrate key achievements of the past century.

“It's significant that our centennial year is falling on a dragon year,” said Chi Can To, executive director of the Chicago Chinatown Chamber of Commerce.

Chicago's Chinatown is a busy 30-block commercial area centered on and around Wentworth Avenue and Cermak Road in the South Side Armour Square neighborhood. Home to more than 10,000 residents and about 400 businesses and local institutions, Chinatown is considered one of the country's largest and most vibrant ethnic communities.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Shots Around the Sloop: Artificial Snow

A reader writes:
I know it’s been a mild winter up until the last few days and a rough year for ski slopes around the country, but I didn’t expect to see the Chicago Park District making snow on the city’s sledding hill.
(Hat tip: JG!)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2012 Should Be Interesting in the Sloop

We spent much of the last week looking back, but now it's time to look forward. Here are some thoughts, stories and projects we're curious about in 2012:

Roosevelt Collection Retail Announcements - One of the biggest South Loop victims of the real estate bubble was the massive Roosevelt Collection development. The big news of 2011 was that Centrum, the original developers, sold the property to a group including real estate tycoon Dan McCaffery. The sale has brought new life (and most importantly a new team) to the development. Everyone has been eagerly anticipating news about the massive amount of vacant retail space and based on a blog post from McCaffery, 2012 appears to be the year we get more information and maybe some new places to shop.

McCaffery is setting a goal of a retail grand opening at RC for mid-October. He states that "85% of the space" being leased is what they're shooting for. We should hear more about this soon and are excited to see what they will be bringing to the neighborhood.

Ward Gerrymandering - Not sure where these new wards are going to net out, but needless to say it's going to be interesting. Chicago is infamous for its political "business" and all signs point to some intriguing developments as talks progress on the new ward maps. Will Alderman Fioretti still represent most of the Sloop? Will the entire system be thrown out the window? Will the Sloop benefit from all of this? Again, not sure...but stay tuned.

Motor Row Development - Lots of talk about this in 2011, but 2012 should be the year that the rubber hits the road. Will Broad Shoulders Brewing and Cheap Trick Chicago prove to be "anchor" tenants for the new entertainment district? Does Alderman Fioretti have some additional ideas to move this vision forward? Who knows...but we should get an idea in 2012

South Michigan Retail Space - Businesses finally begun to move into vacant retail space on South Michigan avenue in 2011 and we're eagerly anticipating four other projects that are currently progressing (as far as we know). The highest profile one is probably Alain's (1355 S. Michigan), which a higher end restaurant being partially funded by Bears defensive stud Israel Indonje. We're also interested in the new "tavern" going in across the street at 1400 S. Michigan as well as the new pastry shop at 1250 S. Michigan.

And we continue to hear that an Italian restaurant will occupy the old Grace O'malley's spot. Haven't seen anything official, but this rumor continues to linger from various sources. Maybe 2012 will be the year something happens here.

Other Interesting Retail Projects - Across from Trader Joe's, the old dilapidated building (1150 S. Wabash) next to Bongo Room has seen a ton of renovation work. We've heard various reports about different restaurants moving in, but again nothing official. Should be interesting to see what come there. Also of interest is the fate of Spanglish (555 S. State), a Mexican restaurant being opened by the owners of La Cocina. They were planning on opening in the fall of 2011, but obviously that didn't happen.

What are you looking forward to in 2012?

Monday, January 2, 2012

Calling All Dough Slappers! Papa John's Opening at State and Cermak?

Regardless of whether or not you like to slap the dough, you've probably enjoyed some Papa John's pizza at some point in your life. We recently got a tip letting us know that Papa John's is apparently opening up shop at State and Cermak based on this job post on Craigslist.

Not exactly sure the address and timing, but it's good to see more businesses turning up on Cermak. Doubt this one is going to help the area as much as some of the other business news in the area (see post from last week), but new business means more people which means a step in the right direction if you ask us.

(Hat tip: RG!)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year from Sloopin

Yup, 2011 is gonzo.

With that said, we wanted to say thanks to all of our readers for your support over the past year. Your emails, comments, pictures, videos and opinions have meant so much to us and continue to give us the motivation to turn out information for the neighborhood. Please keep them coming!

We would also like to take a moment to update our readers on the state of Sloopin. Our readership grew by 58% in 2011 (from 2010) and we exceeded the half million page views threshold this year.

While the bulk of those views came from the neighborhood, we would like to take a moment to call out some of our foreign readers (like we have in the past). Canada was the number one foreign country in regard to readership (we presume because we have some Blackhawks posts occasional) followed by the UK. And even though we only garnered one view from this country, we would like to thank the brave sole from Zimbabwe that graced our site this year.

2011 was a step in the right direction for many reasons - here's to hoping 2012 is even better!

Waterspout: Our Favorite 2011 Shot Around the Sloop

A BIG HAT TIP to J & JG for our favorite Shot Around the Sloop in 2011 - "The Waterspout":
On Saturday morning (September 24th), we noticed a cloud over Lake Michigan off Burnham Harbor and Soldier field that turned into a waterspout. It lasted for about 15 minutes before disappearing.

We look forward to seeing your Shots Around the Sloop in 2012!