Saturday, March 30, 2013

Recently on the Sloopin Message Board...March!

Lot's of stuff going on in the Sloop and thanks to everyone for the activity on our message board.  Here are some active links from the past month:

Friday, March 29, 2013

Is Karamela Cafe Closed?

Upon walking down Michigan recently we noticed two things in regard to Karamela Cafe (1250 S. Michigan):
Old picture of refrigerator/display -- it's now gone!

  1. It was 8pm on a Tuesday night and the cafe was closed
  2. The desert refrigerator/display at the front of the store was gone and so were the cash register and other things.
While we may not be the brightest bulbs in the world, something seemed strange.  Could Karamela Cafe be closed?  It's been a rocky road leading up to the opening, but honestly we liked the place.

We've been a couple of times since our first visit and it seemed like others were there hanging out and enjoying themselves.  What gives?  Anyone know?

(Hat tip: NM!)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Ping Tom Fieldhouse "Appears" at 1700 S. Wentworth

A couple people sent us information on a new structure that "appeared" recently by Ping Tom Park:
Good morning there. I'm a daily visitor and wanted to let y'all know that the walls of the Ping Tom Fieldhouse "appeared" yesterday. I assume everything is prefabricated but it's amazing how quickly things can change. 
If you're curious about the project here is an old post we did.  For some more recent info here is a link to a Public Building Commission of Chicago website.  And here is the formal outlines and proposal for the structure.

(Hat tip: BMC, MGD!)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Asian Outpost Plans New Concept for Ole Hardwood Space

In case you don't read our message board, Blarger posted an interesting link to a Chicago Magazine post yesterday:
Asian Outpost (1315 S. Wabash Ave., no phone yet), a rustic Asian mid-priced spot with between 90 and 100 seats, is scheduled to open midsummer on the elevated first floor of the space that housed the short-lived barbecue joint Ole Hardwood (which closed after a fire in December 2010) and Exposure Tapas Supper Club before that. 
Lois Lee says rustic Asian—not two words you see together often—means dishes such as a soy-braised black chicken. “Part of it is like the recipes our parents had, and part is what David and I do at parties,” she says. Creative maki created by the chef behind the namesake cool sushi, Pheeraphat Phisuthiarpha, will also be available.

If the name Lois Lee (and/or her husband David) rings a bell it's because they're the owners of the Hot Woks Cool Sushi restaurants (see image above from their restaurant up on Michigan Avenue by Millennium Park).  Clearly they've had some success, so it's nice to see them venture down to the Sloop for this new concept.

Best of luck and hopefully they have a better go of it than the previous two restaurants (here and here).

(Hat tip: Blarger!)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Roosevelt University Jazz Ensembles to Perform Free Concerts at Jazz Showcase on April 1st and 2nd

If you're looking for something to do next week, this sounds like some good free fun:
Roosevelt University’s unique Large Jazz, Latin Jazz and New Deal Vocal Ensembles will give two free Spring Showcase performances at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, April 1 and Tuesday, April 2 at one of Chicago’s premier jazz clubs, the Jazz Showcase, 806 S. Plymouth Court, Chicago.
For more information checkout this link.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Some Conceptual Sloop Real Estate Porn

Both of these developments probably aren't happening (especially the Wooden Skyscraper concept), but it's still fun to look at and dream about.  Curbed recently posted about them and we got excited!

First up is the more feasible of the pair, an interesting skyscraper that would serve neighboring higher education institutions (please note this is at Wabash and Van Buren - just north of the Sloop):
Image from Curbed Chicago
Would be pretty cool and iconic.

Something even cooler and probably even more iconic would be this crazy design for a Wooden  Skyscraper concept just north of River City:
Image from Curbed Chicago
Ok, now it's time to go back to earth.  Enjoy your Monday.  

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Pink Olive Wine and Liquor Store Looking to Open on Cermak

Crain's had a couple good articles talking about some hot topics coming out of the PDNA meeting on Thursday night.

They had some more information about a proposed on/off ramp from Lake Shore Drive at 15th or 16th street.  It's definitely a controversial move, but from a city planning standpoint we could see the benefit.  It's not easy to get to this area via car.  However, we're sure residents like that this is the case (makes it sleepier and quieter).  Anyway, read the article here.

via Google Maps
The interesting thing we took from this article was that a new wine and liquor store called the Pink Olive was looking to open at 80 E. Cermak.  This could be a good development for the area.  We presume it would be in the same retail building as Papa John's (on the north side of the street):
Meanwhile, in another sign of activity in the area, former state Sen. Annazette Collins said last night that she plans to open a 1,000-square-foot liquor and wine store at 80 E. Cermak Road, at South Michigan Ave.

The shop would be called Pink Olive, according to Ms. Collins, who said she’s negotiating a three-year lease with the building’s owner.
Good news and hope the succeed!

Finally, there was also an article talking about the PDNA's opposition to the idea of DePaul building a stadium in the neighborhood.  Not a ton of new news here, but if you're into this story it's worth a read.

POLL: Optimism & Uncertainty Around Sloop Property Values

Friday, March 22, 2013

Greater South Loop Association Community Meeting Tomorrow (3/23)

From the Greater South Loop Association:

Jo-Ann Fabrics & Crafts Coming to Roosevelt Road

A reader writes:
I found out Joann's is coming to the sloop at Joffco Sq (where BBB and BB is) according to, which is linked from Joann's offical facebook. It doesn't have a date yet, but I am excited!
More positive news for the Roosevelt Retail's been a good week for shoppers in the Sloop.

(Hat tip: ML!)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Kai Sushi Looks to Replace Donna's Cafe at 1255 South State

Well lookie here...a new sushi spot named Kai Sushi looks to be "coming soon" to the old space at 1255 South State.

As you probably remember, Donna's Cafe closed back in Mid-January.  Didn't take long for a new place to snatch up the space.

So what is Kai Sushi?  Well it appears to be similar to the Kai Sushi up in West Town at 1406 W. Grant.  If you look at the logo on their website and the logo on the sign in the picture above, it's the same (good deduction on our part!).

Anyway, Kai Sushi has a 4.5 star rating on yelp and it sounds like that star is BYOB.  While we don't know if the South Loop restaurant will be BYOB, we can dream.  We love sushi and we love drinking our own liquor, so it sounds like a win win to us.

Has anyone been to Kai in West Town?  How is it?

PDNA Community Meeting Event Rich with Motor Row Topics

If college basketball isn't your thing or if you think Motor Row is more important you should check out this event:
For years now, South Loop residents have heard about the possibilities for the Motor Row Landmark District, the Central Station Gateway and many have wondered what would become of the significant number of vacant parcels surrounding McCormick Place. The PDNA's Motor Row Task Force and Development Committee are inviting the community to attend an extremely important meeting where area residents, local businesses, organizations and stakeholders, will have the chance to be a part of shaping the development of the South Loop and Motor Row, an area which is intended to become one of Chicago's destination entertainment districts.
Meeting Date: Thursday, March 21, 2013
Meeting Time: 6:30pm to 8:30pm (doors open at 6:00pm)
Meeting Location: Landmark Marmon Building, 2230 S. Michigan Ave (please note, NO parking provided) RSVP Appreciated: RSVP Now by Clicking Here 
  • Introduction of Special Guests 
  • PDNA Organization update 
  • Women’s Park community center phase II update 
  • PDNA education update 
  • 1333 S. Wabash planned development amendment proposal–discussion 
  • Twain Park and Gateway Avenue land transfer ordinance–discussion 
  • PDNA Motor Row Task Force Mission and Purpose 
  • Prairie Blocks and speculated DePaul Arena survey update 
  • Green Line at Cermak–discussion 
  • Motor Row 6M TIF Streetscape–discussion 
  • Motor Row developments: 
    • Pink Olive: New liquor store proposal–discussion 
    • Broad Shoulders Brewery 
    • Landmark America Development 
    • McPier 1200 room hotel at Cermak and Michigan 
    • Motor Row Landmark buildings possibly at risk–discussion

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Your Weekly Motor Row Recap: College B-Ball, Auto Showrooms, Cheap Trick, Beer and Kilts

While we love reading about all things South Loop, the recent fury of Motor Row news has been exhausting and tough to parse through.  At least this allows us to search "cheap trick" on youtube and find something random (see video above).

Anyway, back to the news.  Last week, we posted an article in Crain's stating that the Cheap Trick night-club/museum and ZinZanni dinner theater concept had a major set-back.  Many (including us) assumed this meant these deals wouldn't happen.

But according to a follow-up article in the Sun-Times, the Cheap Trick concept is still a go:
Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen told the Rockford Register-Star on Thursday that the deal is "still a go" in the same spot with the provision that he is not "the [money] man." Nielsen is also a co-owner of the popular Piece Brewery and Pizzeria in Wicker Park.
Frankly we have no clue what to make of this.  We're skeptical, but it's hard not to be given anything involving Motor Row these days.

Motor Row 2.0
In other news for Motor Row, there was an opinion article in the Chicago Tribune proposing that Motor Row should go back to its roots and transform into a contemporary version of the old area:
A Chicago Motor Row Showcase could offer a year-round mini-auto show. The car companies and others could use Motor Row for test-marketing of new ideas on the public.
An interesting idea, but probably not the kind of draw that would appeal to the wide variety of conventioneers who come to McCormick Place.

Maybe basketball could do the trick?
According to another article on the Tribune yesterday, DePaul has notified the United Center that they are not interested in their proposal to bring their basketball team to the west side and instead would like to pursue their own arena near McCormick Place.  While it seems like the DePaul option is getting closer, it also seems like there are going to be some more zigs and zags along the way.

Maybe scantily clad women could do the trick?
A reader writes about a "solid rumor":
I know the owner of the restaurant/bar chain, Tilted Kilt and he called me about space in Motor Row that he has been looking at, Chicago being their top market and me not being commercial broker, only residential and a neighbor of MR Entertainment district, he wanted my opinion. They are supposedly looking about adding a large venue. I will let you know when I hear more details.
Never a dull moment with Motor Row talk.  Stay tuned.

(Hat tip: BT, TL, AMR, MM!)

Northerly Island's Concert Pavilion Could Expand to 20,000 this Spring

Image from Chicago Tribune
Northerly Island was back in the news yesterday.  This time to discuss expansion plans for the concert venue (via the Tribune):
The concert pavilion at Northerly Island could expand this summer with new lawn seating that could hold 20,000 people. 
Under the proposal by the Chicago Park District, 5.9 acres of land by the Charter One Pavilion may be reconfigured to feature lawn-style seating and additional trees. Plans also include increasing the seasonal venue's fixed seating from 8,000 to 8,600, according to an agenda for the city's Plan Commission. 
"No global city in the world has this opportunity to have lawn seating in a nature area out on the water in a vibrant, major downtown area with a world-class skyline as a backdrop," said Bob O'Neill, president of the Grant Park Conservancy and Advisory Council. 
The Plan Commission is set to meet at 1 p.m. Thursday at City Hall to vote on the $3 million project. If approved, the landscaping project, funded by Live Nation entertainment company, would start in the spring, said Bob Foster, a senior project manager for the Park District.
Seems like a good move to us.  Anyone feel otherwise?

While different, but related, we're curious if there is any update on the planned changes for the southern part of Northely Island.  As you may recall from older Sloopin posts, there were some grand plans and from what we could tell some movement on this project.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

H&M to Open This Spring; Nordstrom Rack Announces Plans to open in the Maxwell (Canal and Taylor)

South Loop shoppers have had a lot of reason to rejoice lately, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting:
Fashion-forward clothing retailer H&M will open a new store this spring — its third in Chicago — at the Roosevelt Collection shopping center in the South Loop.
The 26,000-square-foot space will sell clothing for men, women, children and a plus-size line, and will feature “store within store” sections for accessories, lingerie, maternity and sports apparel, the Swedish retailer announced Monday.
Last we heard (back in late November 2012) the new retail at Roosevelt Collection wasn't going to open until Autumn of 2013.  Apparently some of the stores might open earlier.

Another interesting thing we heard was from a friend of the blog who was looking at renting in the Sloop.  They said that the leasing agent couldn't confirm anything, but two "fruit stores" were going to open.  While we're not nutritionists we assume they were referring to Apple and Lululemon, two high profile retailers that were at once rumored to be considering Roosevelt Collection.

As always take this rumor with a grain of salt.  Our guess is that they were simply trying to entice someone to sign a lease.  Hopefully we are wrong about this...but you know how that goes.

In other retail news, it was announced last week that Nordstrom Rack is planning on coming to the Maxwell, a new retail development at the corner of Canal and Taylor.  While news about The Maxwell has been consistent, a confirmed tenant is a pretty big news.  Back in late 2012 we had a post with rumors of potential tenants (including Nordstrom Rack), but were unsure if these were real or just for illustrative purposes.

Sound like one is definitely real.  Here is a quote from the company:
"We're excited to have the opportunity to further grow our downtown Chicago presence with our new location at The Maxwell," Geevy Thomas, president of Nordstrom Rack, said in a statement. "We want to be a part of compelling locations across the country and are looking forward to getting our doors open so that we can help more customers in the South Loop neighborhood."
More positive news for the retail scene in the Sloop.  Slowly but surely it seems like the often talked about "Roosevelt Retail Corridor" is starting to gain momentum.

(Hat tip: KPAX, AR, EJM, CM, JN, SB!)

Crime Rates at an All-time Low for the Near South Side

Image from Chicago Tribune

A reader writes:
I was happy to see that YTD crimes are at an all-time low for the near south side: 
(scroll down to the line graphs)
That's encouraging.  Doesn't mean stuff doesn't happen in our neighborhood, but it seems like the trend is going in the right direction.

(Hat tip:  PD!)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Nepal House (1301 S. Michigan) Shooting for Early April Opening

It's been a couple months since we've posted about Nepal House coming to the southeast corner of 13th and Michigan (1301 S. Michigan).  For those of you who are curious as to when this will open, a sign appeared in the window recently saying "OPENING SOON first week of April 2013":

While we're not sure if this will happen, the buildout inside the space has been ongoing.  It looks like they've made progress, so hopefully they meet their opening date.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

UPS Store Opens at 1245 South Michigan

Another business has opened up shop on South Michigan.  This time it's the UPS Store next door to Bottle & Bottega:

Maybe it's not the sexiest business to open, but it still good to have a solid tenant fill some of the vacant retail space in the hood.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Robbery Outside 732 S. Financial Place

A reader writes:
Our building (732 S Financial Pl) posted a notice about a robbery outside of our building the other night. It happened at around 10 pm and two young men jumped a male resident in our building and took his belongings. Rumor is that they were not armed but jumped him when he walked under the overpass where the metra tracks are. Police have not found the suspects but were given descriptions of what they looked like.  
This is very scary and others should know!
(Hat tip:  SS!)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

2 Steps Forward...1 Step Back for Motor Row Development

or is it 1 step forward and 2 steps back for Motor Row...

Whatever the case, yesterday was not a positive day for the Motor Row district -- the city's attempt to make Michigan Avenue south of Cermak into an entertainment mecca. reports:
Deals to bring a Cheap Trick-themed night club and a circus-cabaret dinner theater to Motor Row have fizzled, a double blow to the city's plan to turn the strip west of McCormick Place into an entertainment district. 
The owner of a building at 2245 S. Michigan Ave. has put the property up for sale after developer Landmark America LLC couldn't deliver on plans to turn the former Buick dealership into a Cheap Trick restaurant, music venue and museum, said Mark Nelson, principal at NelsonHill, the Chicago-based brokerage hired to sell the building. 
The silver lining is that it sounds like the businesses still have interest in the area, but not in the developer.

For the savvy, well informed reader you may remember that the developer, the embattled Pam Gleichman, has had a lot of issues with her projects in Motor Row.

So why did we say 2 steps forward and only 1 step back?  In our mind, the new Green line CTA stop at Cermak is a huge step forward.  Even if these two businesses don't end up in Motor Row...some will eventually.

It's just taking a lonnnnnnnnnnnnggggggggggggg time.

(Hat tip: EM, AR, TL!)

The Wabash Art Corridor Sounds Promising

If you read Sloopin, you probably know we have an affinity towards art (specifically public art).

That's why we were grinning yesterday when we read that Mayor Emanuel, Columbia College and some local South Loop businesses were teaming up to create "The Wabash Arts Corridor" (from Crain's):
Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Columbia College today announced plans to transform a stretch of Wabash Avenue from Congress Parkway to Roosevelt Road as part of the mayor's Chicago Cultural Plan.  
The city will partner with Columbia and other South Loop organizations "to create public art under the umbrella of the Wabash Arts Corridor," the mayor said in a statement. "The Wabash Arts Corridor puts into action two major goals of the City's Cultural Plan. First, coordinating our cultural and educational assets, and second, leveraging them in a way that benefits our children's education and spurs local businesses."  
The city noted that some art projects are already up as part of the arts corridor, including an aerosol art mural (pictured) at the northwest corner of Balbo Avenue and Wabash Avenue.
The picture noted was actually a Shots Around the Sloop post we did back on November 18th of 2012.

While we like that the city is behind this initiative, we gotta give the most props to Columbia College.  If you've walked down Wabash over the years, it's hard to miss some of Columbia's art installations.  It seems like the city is just jumping on the bandwagon.

Don't believe us?  Just look at these links from some of our older Shots Around the Sloop:

Any way you look at this it seems like a positive for the neighborhood.  It will hopefully produce some good work and maybe even draw some people down to the the corridor to check out some art.

Based on the press release, it sounds like there are plans for some photo project on the Hilton Tower and some photo/english project for the El support beams at Harrison.

What do you think about this initiative?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Could Grant Taproom Bring More Life to South Michigan Avenue Restaurant Scene?

In our opinion there is a strange retail scene on South Michigan.  From the Congress down to Roosevelt, the restaurant and retail scene do we put this...inconsistent.

Yes, there is Mercat a la Planxa (638 S. Michigan), the restaurants/bars at the  Hilton Hotel (720 S. Michigan), Brasserie by LM (800 S. Michigan) and OYSY (888 S. Michigan), but beyond that it doesn't have much to offer.  It just feels blah to us.  Maybe we're just dreamers.

Restaurants and bars seem to be coming back to Michigan Avenue however.  Further up North, The Gage (24 S. Michigan) and Henri (18 S. Michigan) are leading the charge.

Anyway, Eater Chicago had a post last week about a new restaurant called Grant Taproom coming to 320 S. Michigan.  While it's just North of the Sloop, slowly but surely more places creep South:
Image from Eater Chicago
The stretch of South Michigan Avenue near the South Loop can be tough to find a meal or a drink, Roger Greenfield believes, and he's out to remedy it. That's one reason why he's opening Grant Taproom near the corner of Van Buren, across the street from Grant Park and diagonally from the Art Institute, this summer. The former owner of 60 Bar Louie locations is adding it to his restaurant stable in a prime yet largely untapped traffic area.  
The 8,000 square-foot space will have a main bar and dining room, mezzanine area, open kitchen, and a patio overlooking Grant Park, seating 280 in the indoor and outdoor areas combined. Although he's still looking for a chef, he's jumping on the farm-to-table concept. The full bar will have a liquor and wine program in addition to a midwest-oriented beer list.

Sounds promising to us!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Development and Zoning News for 1333 S. Wabash and Vesta Lofts

In case you didn't get the PDNA march newsletter, we thought we would post some interesting development news that they highlighted.  We posted about the 1333 S. Wabash news back at the end of January, but they provided an update:

1333 S. Wabash - The original approved PD at 1333 S. Wabash was for a condo tower (which was never built) and now another developer would like to consturct a rental apartment buildng at 1313-1339 S. Wabash. This change requires a zoning amendment to the orignal PD and community review. The original approved plan was for a 260 unit, 270 foot residential building with 260 parking spaces and the new developer is asking for a 307 unit, 280 foot building with 200 parking spaces.

Vesta Lofts (AKA 2100 S. Indiana Avenue Equities, LLC) is the existing building at the SW corner of Indian Ave. and 21st St being converted into 59 dwelling units and 7700 square feet of ground floor retail. The development will have a roof deck, gym, and storage. 65 parking spaces will be available on the adjacent vacant lot for accessory parking. Landscaping will be added around the building and in the parking lot. 
The developer hopes to deliver the units by the summer of 2013. The City's Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) approved a request from 2100 S. Indiana Avenue Equities, LLC for a special use permit for the establishment of 5 dwelling units below the second floor within an existing four-story building.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Sloop Dental - "South Loop's Neighborhood Dentist"

Sponsored Post
Sloop Dental (1440 S. Wabash)
It seems like yesterday, we were walking down Wabash scouting the neighborhood for new things (aka content) and out of the blue a sign literally a sign appeared for Sloop Dental.  That was back in the spring of 2012.  We recently had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Ken Allen and his staff at Sloop Dental and had this Q&A them.

Why should someone come to Sloop Dental versus any other dentist?

We truly care about and feel grateful for each person that comes to our office. Going to the dentist is often a very uncomfortable situation and being told that work may need to be done can increase that feeling. We create an atmosphere of comfort with basic items such as blankets or headphones for the individual, but also implement the newest technologies that make the process easier for everyone.  We use our digital camera and x-rays with an HD monitor to show and explain any existing or potential problems. I can’t speak for other dental offices, but every day I hear from our patients that they have never been so well informed at the dentist.

Some people have anxiety about visiting dentists, how do you help patients overcome this issue?
We try to get to know each of our patients before ever laying them back in the chair. Everyone has different concerns about the dentist and by discussing them first we are able to avoid what we can and move cautiously in areas that we cannot avoid.

Most importantly we let everyone know that they are the one who are one who is in control of the situation and if they need us to stop or don’t feel comfortable we will stop immediately.  In addition to these tactics we also utilize laughing gas and anti-anxiety medications as necessary.

Do you utilize new dental technologies at your practice
As a new office, we are lucky to have all new equipment and are an entirely digital office. Starting with the patient information that is filled out online prior to coming into the office or on our dedicated patient computer, as well as digital x-rays, digital intra-oral cameras.
Patient watches The Simpsons during checkup

We have ceiling mounted HD monitors with the capability of showing all of our images to the person in the chair as well as the ability to adjust the monitor to be viewed while laying down so they may watch a TV show or movie.

We also carry the latest and most advanced dental supplies such as our reinforced composites (tooth colored filling material), all porcelain veneers and crowns, and Invisalign (invisible braces).

Do you see children as well as adults
Our slogan is the “South Loop’s Neighborhood Dentist” and that includes everyone from toddlers to the elderly with an honest health first approach. We love to create beautiful cosmetic cases, but we do not limit our care to only those individuals. 

Do you accept insurance?
Yes, we accept all PPO insurances. If you have question, please contact us or call us (312.340.5761).

What services do you provide?
We are a full service dental office that provides many types of services including root canals, implants, and wisdom teeth extractions. I am a member of the AACD (American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry) so we of course offer cosmetic procedures, as well. Many people think that there is a difference between an general dentist and a cosmetic dentist when in fact the only difference is in the quality of work. All dentistry when performed correctly should be considered cosmetic since it is returning the person to a proper function and appearance.

Dr. Ken & the Sloop Dental Staff
What is your favorite part of being a dentist
Each day I get to meet new people and have an opportunity to help them with their needs or desires. Despite being a person most people dread to go see, most people are very honest and open when they come in and you get to meet some really cool people.

Nice name -- how did you come up with it
Sloop! When I returned to Chicago after serving as a dentist in the Army for 4 years, a couple friends and I were having a few drinks at some of the establishments around the South Loop and one of my friends kept saying “Sloop, Sloop” throughout the night and it got stuck in my head. As I began to arrange to open my practice it was the only name that seemed right and so became, Sloop Dental. I was later informed by him at a later time that he did not make it up himself and got it from the Sloopin website. (Hat tip: Sloopin)

What's your favorite part of the South Loop
Personally, my favorite part of the South Loop is the close proximity to the lakefront area. When I see the visitors that come from around the world to enjoy the views I get to see every day it is a nice reminder of how much I enjoy it here and being a huge Bears fan I love the fact I can walk to Soldier Field!

What's the Deal with the Old Room 21 Space?

Inside Room 21 (2110 S. Wabash)
A reader ponders:
The topic hasn't come up since 2009 on, but any idea what's going on with the old Room 21? There are no leasing/realtor signs in the windows or anything. It's just sitting there. Who owns this?
It closed in 2009 and you're right, it's been awhile since we've talked about the topic.  Last we heard they were renting it out for private parties.  Not sure if that's still the case, but does anyone know what's up with the old Room 21 space?  It was a cool, well designed place (the food...not so much).

Seems like it will be a valuable piece of property once the Green line CTA stop at Cermak/State is built.

(Hat tip: JD!)

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Revised Renderings of the British School of Chicago

New street level rendering with stairs up to public park (photo from Curbed Chicago)
In case you missed the new renderings for the British School of Chicago, Curbed Chicago had a good post with updates:
The British School and Roosevelt Collection developer McCaffery Interests have released revised renderings of the private school's planned South Loop campus. In response to growing public dissatisfaction with the compromised public park space implied by the first set of designs, the revisions demonstrate more care for public access to the school's rooftop park with the inclusion of a broad staircase from the street, and also concede adjacent space for a dog run. The programmatic greenspace beside the school will also be shared with the community. There will now be two basketball/tennis courts, a soccer field, and a playground. 


Friday, March 8, 2013

Some Juicy Retail Rumors: Giordanos, BW3's and More

It's Friday and typically that means the news cycle is slowing down for the week.  But recently we got some juicy retail rumors from an industry professional.  Obviously we don't know these to be true, but here you go:
Old picture of the old Courthouse
at 1340 S. Michigan
Just wanted to let you know that it came to my attention from a tavern owner in the south loop that two new bar/restaurants are coming to the neighborhood. Giordano’s is moving to S Michigan Avenue, thought to be between 16th-18th opening by Fall of this year. And Buffalo Wild Wings (BW3’s) is coming to the Roosevelt Collection.  
And Big Box retailers are looking at the large parcel at Roosevelt and Clark (Rezko). The main anchor would be City’s first ABT electronic store along with a Lifetime Fitness and Kohl’s.

Ok, so let's start with the first one.  There has been some chatter on our message board about Giordano's, but that it was coming to the old courthouse at 1340 S. Michigan.  While the 1340 address seems to make more sense to us since that area gets a little more foot traffic, the courthouse doesn't seem to be anywhere close to inhabitable.  We're not developers or builders, but it seems to us like that building needs a lot of work first.

All the other retail rumors in the email above are news to us.  BW3's at Roosevelt Collection isn't very surprising.  But anything to do with the Rezko lot would be big news.

For those of you out of the loop, we posted about a potential zoning change to the infamous undeveloped Rezko lot just South of Target and Roosevelt Collection back in mid-February.  There has been a lot of chatter about it recently since it's such a huge, blank canvas that developers must be drooling about. provided some additional information on this just last week.

Can anyone corroborate any of these?

(Hat tip: MPM!)

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Introducing the 1st Annual South Loop Women's Tea

A reader writes:
There is a womens tea celebration this Saturday and it would be nice to get as many South Loop women to go as possible. Looks like it will be a really nice event and a nice place for South Loop women to network with each other.  

(Hat tip:  GF!)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Because We Like Old Chicago....and Jazz

We were reading Lee Bey's WBEZ blog, Beyond the Boat, and had a chance to watch this jazzy video of Chicago from 1978.  We found a couple shots around the Sloop -- did we miss any:

1:12 - El and back of the Hilton?
1:52 - Gas Station at Congress & Dearborn
8:20 - Congress and Michigan

Sod Room Officially Opens at 1454 S. Michigan

From Sod Room's Facebook Page
We posted about Sod Room (1454 S. Michigan) being ready to open and it's official, they are now open!  Congrats to them!

Chicago Parent recently had this summary on the business:
In the past two years, Family Grounds CafĂ©, Day Frog and Fantasy Kingdom have stepped out of the once cluttered indoor park category. 
But Chicago Public School teacher Cynthia Valenciana, the mother of two young children, was confident her new South Loop spot, Sod Room, would attract kids from across Chicago. 
That's because it's the first truly green play space in the city.
It's goes on to give a more detailed description of what they're doing at Sod as well as some pricing.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Sloop Part of the Hottest Urban Center in the US

If you read Sloopin, the headline in this post probably resonates with you.  And if it resonates with you, many of the anecdotes in yesterday's Crain's article "The Hottest Urban Center in the US - Chicago's mega-Loop" probably hit close to home.

The article takes a look at demographic trends and shows a rosy picture for the downtown core and the Sloop:
It's late afternoon on a winter weekend and the Kerasotes ShowPlace Icon movie theaters in the South Loop are packed, never mind that tickets go for as much as $17.50 a pop. The 14-screen complex is doing “very well,” says Tony Kerasotes, owner of Chicago-based Kerasotes ShowPlace Theatres LLC. With more than 1 million admissions last year, in fact, “it's the best-grossing theater in the Midwest,” he claims.
Barely a decade ago, the site at Roosevelt Road and Clark Street was a forsaken railroad yard. Today, it's part of a 1.3 million-square-foot complex of shops, restaurants and apartments. This is the new Chicago, a skyscraper-studded expanse that stretches well beyond the traditional Loop to cover 10 square miles roughly from Cermak Road to North Avenue and from the lakefront to Ashland Avenue.

First off, it's pretty interesting that Roosevelt Collection has the best-grossing theater in the Midwest.  Second, this article is a great read for fans of Chicago and anyone who are interested in the future of the neighborhood.

However, it's slight strange to read such an optimistic article when many of us are still feeling the affects of the recession and housing bubble.  But from the sounds of this article, things are changing and the longterm prognosis for downtown Chicago and the Sloop are looking up.

What do you think?  Do you agree with this line of thought?

We've always maintained that the South Loop is well positioned for the long term given it's proximity to downtown, the lake, public transportation, Grant Park and some of the city's most treasured cultural institutions (among other things).

Anyway, if you're not up to read the whole article, this video does a good job summarizing the trends:


Monday, March 4, 2013

Butterfield Kitchen Opens Inside Roosevelt CTA Stop

Image from Butterfield Kitchen's Facebook page
Back in January we posted about Butterfield Kitchen opening up in the long standing vacant retail space at the Roosevelt CTA stop.  Well as of last week, they are open!

We recently noticed that they were open and tried out their coffee (which was pretty good).  Like any new business they're ironing out some kinks, but the food we saw (mainly cookies and muffins) looked pretty good.

Has anyone tried them out?

Friday, March 1, 2013

PianoForte Loves the Sloop; Plans to Open by End of Summer

Over a month ago we posted about PianoForte moving to 1335 S. Michigan. recently had an article on this move and provided some nice tidbits, especially this quote about how the owner feels about the South Loop:
Between now and July, the space will be customized with acoustic insulation; small, private studios for lessons; and dedicated space for recording and performances. 
Zoells expects the move to be done by the end of the summer. Zoells said it's no accident that the move to the new building will be a short one. He said the South Loop is the perfect home for the city's piano capital. 
"It's a really good location for a couple of reasons: One is it's right across the street from Sherwood Community Music School, which is part of Columbia College, so there's already a lot of music on that block," Zoells said. 
"And it's in the South Loop. That neighborhood has become a very tight-knit, very residential community with a lot of cultural activity right around there. We want to contribute to that. And at the same time, it's so close to downtown, you can walk there, you can hop on a bus, you can more easily park there than you can where we are now, so I think it's a winner."
If there is one way to our heart it's to say nice things about our far we like what we hear!

(Hat tip: EB!)