Saturday, March 31, 2012

Anthony Davis, star of NCAA Tournament, Hails from Perspectives Charter School in the Sloop

It's the NCAA men's basketball Final Four weekend and needless to say there is a lot of media attention on the teams, coaches and players. With that said, it came as a surprise to us when we read that the player of the year, Kentucky's Anthony Davis, actually went to school at Perspectives Charter School (1930 S. Archer) in the South Loop (via IndyStar):
As a high school freshman, Anthony Davis fell a few inches shy of being the tallest player on his basketball team. He was 6-2 but shot up eight inches by his senior year.

That made him a hot commodity in basketball hotbed Chicago, but in an unlikely place:
Perspectives Charter School. It is a contradiction to urban public schools that produce high-caliber players and have a reputation for being crowded or run-down. Perspectives is modern, down to the architecture of its Joslin campus building, shaped like an isosceles triangle, in the Downtown South Loop area.

Perspectives, with a high school enrollment of about 200, has no gymnasium and plays in the off-the-radar Blue Division of the Chicago Public League, a place for startups and foundering programs that are no match for teams from the powerful Red Division.

From this little-known school, Davis made it to Kentucky, the Final Four and NBA draft charts as the projected No. 1 pick if he chooses to declare. He is just a freshman, but his immediate
impact reverberated across the country. On Friday, he was named Associated Press Player of the Year. Earlier, he won the Oscar Robertson Trophy and will lead NCAA tournament favorite Kentucky in its national semifinal today against rival Louisville.
We've never read much about this school so it was surprising to see the neighborhood and this school mentioned in this context. With that said, we wanted to arm you with this random fact so you can impress your friends when you're watching the final four this weekend.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Educational Institutions Lead Way for Construction in the Sloop

In the height of the housing boom it was common to see cranes every direction you looked. Fast forward to recent times and the opposite is true.

Although apartments and condos aren't being built like they were a couple years ago, that doesn't mean the neighborhood isn't growing.

Thanks to some educational institutions, the landscape of the Sloop will look different in the months to come. We've chronicled some of the proposed projects individually, but recently noticed that they appear to be picking up steam. With that said, we snapped some pictures of these new developments.

Probably the highest profile project is the new Jones College Prep high school being built on the Northwest corner of State and Polk (picture to the right). It's tough to miss the gigantic crane that has been put into place and will help build the structure that will no doubt change the look and feel of State street in the Sloop.

Other less high-profile, but still important structures are also beginning constructed. Roosevelt University is building an athletic complex at the Southeast corner of Congress and Wabash. While it might not be as sexy as its "Vertical Campus" building, it will no doubt bring more density to the neighborhood (which we think is good - especially in this part of the neighborhood). Below is a picture of construction workers laying the foundation (among other things) at the site:
Good to see that the neighborhood is growing even if the housing market isn't in great shape.

(Hat tip: TP!)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Brasserie by LM Opens at 800 S. Michigan!

It was just a couple weeks ago when we heard Brasserie by LM, a new French restaurant, was coming to the space at Essex Inn (800 S. Michigan). Of course we didn't expect them to open for sometime, but apparently we were wrong. Numerous readers have informed us that they opened yesterday:
Brasserie by LM is opening Today (Wednesday, 3/28) and I thought it might be nice to remind readers so they can go check it out.

Here is a link to their menu that was included in an e-mail from Thrillist. Looks good and the price points are not too bad.

Hope they do well!

The menu looks pretty reasonable if you ask us. We also did some more searching on the interwebs and found a blog with photos of the food (see picture above or other pictures here). We love some steak frites and can't wait to try this out.

(Hat tip: TB and AA!)
(Image from: RL Photography)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Hiring Our Heroes Job Fair at the Hilton this Morning

Just wanted to put out a quick post about a good thing happening at the Hilton in the South Loop:
More than 1,000 job seekers and 130 employers are expected to participate in the “Hiring Our Heroes – Chicago” job fair Wednesday for veterans and military spouses.

The NBC 5 Morning Show will be live at the fair before it kicks off at 9 a.m. at The Hilton Chicago, 720 S. Michigan Ave.

Hiring Our Heroes was launched last March, aiming to host 100 job fairs in local communities across the country in its first year. After meeting the goal, the number of fairs was expanded to 400 in the second year.
(Hat tip: N!)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Spanglish to Open Cinco de Mayo?

It's been awhile since we've heard anything about the "coming soon" signs for Spanglish, the Mexican Kitchen on State street between Congress and Harrison.

Last night an anonymous source within the restaurant community tipped a Sloopin confidant that Spanglish was planning on opening on May 5th (Cinco de Mayo).

While we can't confirm or deny this opening date, it appears that a lot of work still needs to be done inside the space. We've walked by a couple times to what appears to be nothing going on inside the restaurant. We will see... hopefully this is true!
(Hat tip: DMF!)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Mariano's Planning on Late Summer Groundbreaking

A reader writes:
Hey Sloopy,
I attended the presentation last night from the Roundy's people concerning the new store at 16 & Clark. The renderings posted on your blog were pretty spot on as far as the layout but there are some new developments. Here are a few of the highlights:
  • The store will have one entrance, north facing, very close to Clark.
  • There will only be two drive-in entrances, one at what is now Federal and 16th, one mid block between 16th and 17th on Clark, with a new traffic light (paid for by Roundy's)
  • Loading will take place at 17th and Dearborn, with fully enclosed docks
  • No plan for any greenery on the roof (there was in the original renderings)
  • The self storage place will stay, as the owner does not wish to sell at this time (they tried)
  • Double deck parking with and interior elevator
  • Lots of windows to see in and out, not fake display windows
  • July-August groundbreaking, one year construction timeline.

For those looking for the old post that we did on the topic (with renderings) click here.

Good to hear they're planning on breaking ground this summer. We've heard a lot of good stuff about Mariano's and can't wait to try out ours.

(Hat tip: AB!)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Get Out of Town - NATO is Coming!

Since we started this poll, things have changed on this subject. As most of you know, the G8 summit (which was expected to draw the largest amount of protesters) has been moved to Camp David in Maryland. While this might mean slightly less craziness, it will still be a zoo during the NATO summit which is scheduled for Sunday, May 20th and Monday, May 21st.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Cafe/Pastry Shop Aiming for Early April Soft Opening?

A reader writes:
Hello. I was walking past the old Wine Styles space today and someone was in there and nice enough to give me the scoop. It's gong to be a cafe with pastries (from Greece), ice cream/froyo, and drinks. Soft opening goal is early April.
Do you know any more?
We heard it was going to have pastries, but didn't know much more. We also know that is affiliated with Pita Heaven next door.

Also good to hear that they're aiming for an early April soft opening.

Anyone else have any scoop?

(Hat tip: SM!)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Election for Women's Park and Gardens Advisory Council on March 27th

A reader writes:
Attached (link here) is information on the annual election of Chicago Women's Park and Gardens Advisory Council. The election is March 27, 2012. This is another opportunity for folks in Chicago and the South Loop to volunteer in service to their community. There are 11 council positions up for election including president, vice president, treasurer, and secretary. Also attached is an image of the Chicago Women's Park and Gardens field house.
(Hat tip: SR!)
(Image from SR!)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Nice Way to Travel

A reader writes from Friday (3/16):
This morning I went out for a run and noticed a number of unmarked police car’s by the 18th street bridge and CPD boats in the harbor, and a Coast Guard boat at the harbor mouth.

This afternoon while looking out the balcony window I noticed a Chinook in the parking lot at McCormick place and started wondering if they were doing a practice drill for the NATO summit. Shortly after, I realized Obama was in town when is motorcade went down LSD heading to the helicopters. As it turns out there were five helicopters in total, three Chinooks and two identical “Marine One” helicopters (can’t remember what kind of helicopters those actually are).

Unfortunately we’re going to have to delay putting the boat in the water this year b/c Burnham Harbor is going to be closed until May 24th b/c of the NATO summit. Most likely it is because they’re going to be using this parking lot as a landing pad. Anyway, it certainly must be convenient to travel like this…quite the production to move the president from place to place! I know my Monday - Thursday commute to my client site would be a heck of a lot more relaxing if I was able to fly like Obama!

…and yes I realize I’m a big nerd for taking all these pics.
(Hat tip: JG!)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Community Meeting on Thursday to Discuss Cermak Green Line Stop

The new Green Line stop at Cermak has been a hot topic here at Sloopin, so we know everyone would like to know about a meeting notice on the subject on Thursday, March 22nd at 7pm.

Ald. Dowell, the Chicago Transit Authority and the Chicago Department of Housing and Economic Development will be hosting a community meeting to discuss the proposed CTA Green Line Station at Cermak.

Date: Thursday, March 22
Time: 7:00pm
Location: Columbia College, 623 S. Wabash in Room 203

We're going to try to make it, but regardless if anyone goes, please let us know your thoughts.

Monday, March 19, 2012

House of Sole Closes Up Shop

A reader recently sent us an email from Tiffany, the owner of House of Sole (the shoe and accessory store at 1237 S. Michigan Avenue). Unfortunately the store plans to close up shop this month as Tiffany "explores new dreams".

This is unfortunate news. While we've documented many of the positive developments on South Michigan, it seems like we always take one step forward and then one step back.

House of Sole is the second shop to close their doors on this block as Marble Slab Ice Creamery recently did as well.

Best of luck to Tiffany in her future endeavors and hopefully we can get some new businesses to fill in some of these vacant spaces on the East side of Michigan Avenue.

(Hat Tip: TP!)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Shots Around the Sloop: Pot O'Gold?

A reader writes:
Early evening thunderstorm on March 16, 2012. With St Patrick's Day tomorrow, maybe there is a Pot O'Gold at the end of the rainbow.

Photo taken from 1530 S State.
(Hat tip: BJ!)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Lollapalooza to Pay More in Restructured Deal with the City

Looks like Lollapalooza and the city restructured the deal to everyones benefit(minus the concert goers) according to the Crain's Chicago:
A new agreement between the Chicago Park District and concert organizer C3 Presents will keep Lollapalooza in Chicago through at least 2021, and require C3 to pay millions in amusement and liquor taxes for the first time. It also will increase the ticket prices to concertgoers, according to Charlie Jones, co-owner of the Austin, Texas-based concert promoter.
Glad everyone is getting paid. Just wish it wasn't at my expense.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

"The Lex" Aims for April Occupancy; Has Pinball Machine in Lobby!

It's well documented that the residential tower at 2138 S. Indiana has had some issues (timing, water damage, ownership issues, etc). Well this week news came out that the new tower is re-branded as "The Lex" and is ready for rental occupancy in April (most probably remember it as the Lexington Park Condominiums before it was converted into rentals).

Many Sloopers and businesses that live on the South side of the neighborhood should be ecstatic about this news. One of the big knocks on this area of the South Loop is that there isn't a ton of people and foot traffic.

While this probably won't completely solve the problem, its gotta help. As we've mentioned many times here on Sloopin, the development of Motor Row/Music Row is of big interest to us and this should at least bring more people to this area.

Anyway, back to "The Lex". Their new website has a slick image gallery and from what we can tell the places look pretty swanky albeit pretty small. We also found it interesting/funny that one of the amenities listed on their website includes "Pinball machine in the lobby".

So what do you think? Look good? Good for the neighborhood? Not going to make a difference? Will it provide some more momentum?

We can't imagine that there are many place in the city that allow you to live in a high-rise and become a pinball wizard:

(Image from The Lex Website)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Sloopin Mystery? What Goes on in this Building?

A reader writes:
Any insight from Sloopers/readers on what goes inside this (above pic) building and the one immediately to the south of it. When this picture was taken, no addresses were posted on the buildings, but last time I drove past, I believe some had been posted. These buildings would be the two immediately south of 1600 S. Prairie condos.

The building to the south of the one in the picture has "PECO" lettering on the front. Google searches turned up a cleaning/uniform services for restaurants, but both numbers were out of service or disconnected. Only a few times while out walking the dog have I seen any of the doors open or lights on and it looked like the building to the south of the one in the picture had a bunch of cars (possibly luxury) and boats inside. Money-laundering operation, much?

Can Sloopin's readers help me solve this mystery?

UPDATE and Photo from a reader:
I've attached a closeup photo of the building facade on Prairie that you posted about today. The images shows an electric train etched into the building:
(Hat tip: JZD and EJM!)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

America's Dog Coming to BP at Roosevelt and Wabash?

A reader writes:
Just spoke with a good friend of mine who has a few investments in the Sloop (Not Matt O'Malley)... His newest one: America's Dog going into the BP on Wabash and Roosevelt.
Interesting. We've been to a stand alone America's Dog store in Lincoln Park (2300 N. Lincoln) and figured that the stand alone model was their strategy for expansion.

Maybe they're being more aggressive now and looking at faster roll-outs?

(Hat tip: KG!)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Could or Should the Sloop be Home for the Jazz Hall of Fame?

According to a recent WGN post, a group of prominent jazz musicians and cultural figures are looking to build a new, state of the art jazz museum in Chicago—an International Jazz Hall of Fame, to be exact. The idea has been pitched to “a number of different people in the city”, but an exact location for the proposed tourist attraction has not been determined.

The idea to erect a jazz museum in Chicago is nothing new—in fact, seed money was raised in the 1990’s to build a National Jazz Museum right here in the Sloop:
But the effort lost steam in 1999, when the City of Chicago turned down the planners' proposal to take over a choice parcel of land up for redevelopment at the northwest corner of Roosevelt Road and Michigan Avenue.

Now, influential voices across the city such as jazz pianist Ramsey Lewis and Columbia College President Warrick Carter are reviving the idea. But the choice piece of land that was proposed for the original museum is now a high rise.

We have an idea...maybe the should think about "Music Row” on South Michigan. Seems like it could be a good alternative location for such a prestigious institution. It seems like a fit for the area, but maybe it's not high-profile enough for the museum.

Anyway, should be interesting to see how this develops. What do you think? Could and/or should this museum come to the Sloop?

Friday, March 9, 2012

Some News About Our Museum Campus Institutions

In our opinion, one of the Sloop's most prized attributes is its proximity to Museum Campus. It's a truly unique thing to have in your backyard and something we hope everyone appreciate. With that said, we recently read articles about these various institutions.

It sounds like the President of the Adler Planetarium, Paul Knappenberger Jr., is set to retire. Things are going pretty well at the Adler as they've seen their attendance jump 11% in the past year.

We also read an interesting article recently in the Huffinton Post about the "behind the tanks" exhibit at the Shedd Aquarium:
Attending to the medical needs of 32,500-plus sea creatures, different species from every corner of the world, presents a fair share of challenges to the staff of John G. Shedd Aquarium's animal hospital and diagnostic center.

Like parsing out whale- and seahorse-size prescriptions of the same medications, taking MRI and CT scans of electric eels, and the old "shoe in the alligator" problem.

Bob Vanvalkenburg, the director of veterinary services at the aquarium, said the Chicago institution recently wrapped up six months of renovations to the 88-year-old aquarium. Its hospital and diagnostics lab were redone to add viewing windows, now part of a new public tour of the backstage facilities three days a week.
It's an interesting read, with some interesting pictures.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

No Chipotle Planned for the Least for Now

A reader writes:
After reading one of the posts on sloopin the other day I realized that many other people in the Sloop are craving a Chipotle so I decided to write to them via their website.

Sadly it doesn't look like we're getting a South Loop Chipotle any time soon. I'm curious who all the people are that they copied in the below email are. Perhaps owners of the other Chipotle's in the city? Maybe I can lobby them...
This is probably good news for Flaco's Taco's (our local fast Mexican option at 725 S. Dearborn), but in reality we bet that they could coexist with Chipotle fine. Anyway, if you want to read the entire email from Chipotle click here.

(Hat tip: JG!)
(Image from: Michigan 5K Website)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Jewel-Osco at Roosevelt and Wabash Robbed Yesterday

Just in case you didn't see this yesterday, thought we would post (via the Tribune):
A man wearing sunglasses robbed a bank inside a Jewel-Osco this morning in the South Loop.

The robber told a teller he had a weapon and demanded money at the TCF Bank branch, 1224 S. Wabash Ave., according to Chicago Police Department Central District Police Lt. Richard Guerrero.

He did not show a weapon, and the robber fled the grocery with an unidentified amount of currency, the lieutenant said. No one was hurt and no dye pack was included with the proceeds from the 10:55 a.m. robbery.
(Hat tip: SM!)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Is Mary Sears Children Academy Closed?

A reader writes:
The Mary Sears space (!255 S. State) is listed for rent on

I know they've had violation issues in the past, remember they left a child at the park in the spring? Are they being closed down, relocating, not enough kids needing daycare in the south loop, etc. I figured you'd get the scoop for me.
It's not surprising that they would close, we've heard some bad things about the place (also see rating on yelp). Does anyone have any information on this Mary Sears Academy?

(Hat tip: CLD!)

Monday, March 5, 2012

Brasserie by LM coming to Essex Inn Restaurant Space

Everyone in the neighborhood had high hopes for Tribute, the ambitious contemporary american restaurant that only completely renovated the restaurant space at the Essex Inn hotel (800 S. Michigan). However, if you read the blog often you probably remember that Tribute only lasted 5 months.

Apparently the lack of success for Tribute didn't deter another group from trying its hand. According to a new post on Chicago Magazine's website, a new restaurant called Basserie by LM is shooting to open up shop in the spring:
In another full-circling, the Outrequin Quaissers, who both worked at The Drake, are returning to hotel dining, planning Brasserie by LM (Essex Inn, 800 S. Michigan Ave.; no phone yet) for the space that most recently saw the short, rocky life of Tribute. “When we started with the brasserie project, Stephan called Bradford for his input,” Nicole Outrequin Quaisser says, “and he got more into [it], and he said he might be interested.” The traditional French brasserie menu will feature plats du jour such as boeuf bourguignon or steak frites, and crème brûlées for dessert. A prix fixe costing in the neighborhood of $25 will be available for lunch and dinner. Being a hotel restaurant, it also will be open for breakfast, with items such as a breakfast croque-monsieur and jambon beurre. If all goes well, the brasserie will open March 28.

For those not intimately connected to the restaurant scene in Chicago, you might not know the Outrequin Quaissers (we didn't). However, after doing some research it sounds like their French Gastro Bistro, LM, in Lincoln Square is pretty fantastic. They have a 4 star rating on Yelp and after watching this Hungry Hound video, we can't wait to try some of their cuisine:

It's refreshing to see a new restaurant come to this spot so quickly. It's a prime spot right on Michigan avenue and as we said when Tribute was coming, this space has a ton of opportunity.

Can't wait to see how this materializes!

(Hat tip: JJ!)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Could Something be Coming to Old Cuatro Space?

A reader writes:
I wanted to reach out to you and see if you had heard of anything going on with the old Cuatro space (corner of Wabash and 21St.) I walked by there the other morning and all of the "REVOKE" signs had been taken down and the windows were cleaned. There were mops and buckets lying around and the lights were on. Hopefully the place has been rented out or purchased. We sure could use some more business in that part of the Sloop!
It's been awhile since we've thought about Cuatro since it closed and unfortunately we don't have any information on whether or not something is coming to this space.

Does anyone know about this one?

(Hat tip: RB!)

Friday, March 2, 2012

DePaul Journalism Students Work to Increase Sloopin Readership

Four graduate students from DePaul University's journalism program have spent the last few weeks contributing content to Sloopin and working to increase site traffic as part of a group project focused on digital news strategy.

Samantha Steiner, Julie Harris, Laura Fitzgerald, and Clarissa Fidler are students in Professor Lou Rutigliano's journalism course, "News Now: Journalism in the Information Age". The course—part of the journalism program's core curriculum—is designed to critically examine issues faced by today's news media.

For their group project, Samantha, Laura, Clarissa, and Julie have each taken turns writing Sloopin blog posts, adding photos to Shots Around the Sloop, and commenting on posts via Facebook and the Sloopin site itself. Their main goals have been to bring more readers to the site via social media and engage readers through post comments.

The internet has allowed for a major increase in the number of news outlets available to the public. However, a select handful of sites continue to dominate online traffic while often neglecting localized news coverage. As a result, smaller news sites often struggle to build an audience.

Sites like ours provide a way for residents to network together and become invested in their community. Engaging individuals at a local level is an important component to news media's successful future.

Here at Sloopin we are dedicated to bringing you all that is and could be life in the South Loop. We value you as our readers and hope to continue to find ways to bring you pertinent information you won't find anywhere else.

A special Sloopin hat tip to Samantha, Julie, Laura, and Clarissa for their help and contributions to our site and community! Best of luck!

(Image from

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The History of that Blue Star Auto Stores Building

Chicago Magazine’s online feature of Chicago street photography on February 23 featured historic Blue Star Auto Stores on South State. This place has been around for 133 years, and it’s still selling auto parts and supplies.

The shot was taken by ChicagoGeek, a local photographer who shoots a lot of architecture around the city. The article talks about the history of the Blue Star Auto Stores, saying:
Until 1900 it was a very respectable hotel but then illegal gambling began to take place in the basement, the upstairs became a brothel. Deep below the hotel was a series of secret tunnels, an elaborate 25-mile system. Today you can still see bricked-up entrances to the numerous gangster getaways.
Photo Credit: (ChicagoGeek, Chicago Magazine)