Thursday, October 31, 2013

Haunted South Loop Spots

It's Halloween and with that comes attempts to scare people.

With that said, our friends at Curbed Chicago recently had a map of "Chicago's Most Terrifically Terrifying Hautings".  For those seeking some paranormal activity in the Sloop, you're in luck - The Congress Plaza Hotel (520 S. Michigan),  Marshall Field Mansion (1919 S. Prairie) and The Glessner House Museum (1800 S. Prairie) have all made the cut (put intended).

Our favorite explanation was for the Glessner House:

UPDATE: Glessner House Museum clarifies in the comment section:
Ummm, we don’t claim anything of the sort at Glessner House Museum. And actually, Richardson died in Boston before they even broke ground on the property (he died in April of 1886, they started construction in June 1886). So nothing they’ve stated is accurate.

New NBC Drama, Chicago PD, Filming in the Sloop Today

We've seen a lot of filming in the neighborhood for the (apparently) popular NBC drama Chicago Fire.  Well judging from an email we recently received from a reader, it seems like the network likes what the see in Chicago and are now filming a spin-off titled Chicago PD (see notice to the right on the right).

So what's the premise? (via NBC):
District 21 of the Chicago Police Department is made up of two distinctly different groups. There are the uniformed cops who patrol the beat and go head-to-head with the city's street crimes. And there's the Intelligence Unit, the team that combats the city's major offenses - organized crime, drug trafficking, high profile murders and beyond.  
Leading the Intelligence team is Sergeant Hank Voight, a man not against skirting the law in the pursuit of justice. Demanding and tough, only those who can take the heat survive under Voight's command. Take Detective Antonio Dawson - despite his troubled history with his boss, Dawson has ambitions of running the unit... so if that means facing off against Voight every day, he'll persevere.  
From the street cops with dreams of moving up to the elite crew who are already in, "life on the job" is a daily challenge. The enormous responsibilities that come with the territory take an emotional toll, as we'll find when we follow the personal lives of our characters outside the walls of District 21.

While Chicago Fire isn't our favorite show in the world, it ain't bad.  So we will probably give Chicago PD a try - why not.  

Especially if it means we can see the Sloop shine on the small screen!

(Hat tip:  ET!)

Goodyear Tire Plus Opens at 18th and Wabash

New Goodyear Tire Plus (looking south from 18th street)
It hasn't been fast, but a brand new Goodyear location has opened up at 18th and Wabash.  A reader noticed that something was up way back in June of 2012.  At the time we didn't know much, but it eventually became clear that it was a Goodyear.

Congrats to them on the new building and the business counter is up to date.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Does Our Neighborhood Suck? Thrillist Weighs In!

Thrillist recently weighed in on some of the city's neighborhoods (including the Sloop).  The background:
Chicago has been called a city of neighborhoods, which may be one of its less-catchy monikers, but it also happens to be true. And those neighborhoods have many fine qualities and eclectic charms... but they also have some lesser points. And some lesser, lesser points. Read on to find out what those are, and if you don't see your least favorite 'hood, feel free to expound on it in the comments.
You'll find you're stereotypical descriptions for neighborhoods ranging from Wrigleyville to Bucktown to Pilsen.  What did they have to say about the Sloop:
South Loop: FACT: 87% of South Loop residents bought a condo before the real estate market crashed, assured the area was about to develop like crazy, only to regret it. They’re trying to save money for a new place but they keep spending it on cabs to take them away from the South Loop.

Anyway, as you can imagine this type of post elicited a rather lively debate in the comment section.  Worth a read if you're looking to kill time.

(Hat tip:  K-PAX!)

Monday, October 28, 2013

British School Merger Won't Affect Public Park

DNAinfo has a good update on the proposed British School building (slated for the vacant area north of Roosevelt Collection).  Apparently the public space won't change at all despite the merger of two international teaching organizations.

Of more interest, the plan is to move forward with construction relatively soon:
The new timeline calls for construction to start in early 2014, though McCaffrey hasn't set a date, anticipating the possible need to circle back with the city for new zoning approvals. 
If all goes as planned, the first school year will kick off in fall 2015.
News to us.  We were skeptical that this would be delayed even longer.

For more background on the merger here is an old post we did.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Claim Your Sloopin Hat Tip T-Shirt

A friendly reminder to claim your Sloopin Hat Tip T-Shirt if you've submitted a story and your initials are listed below:

  • KP
  • TW
  • MK
  • JK
  • MR
  • KM
  • DP
  • JB
  • SP
  • KG
  • MLG
  • JJ
  • CD
For more background on the hat tip t-shirt program click here.

As always, thanks for all the great tips!  Keep them coming!

Shots Around the Sloop: Purple Dusk

(Hat tip:  JN!)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

PianoForte Opens Today at 1335 S. Michigan with a Free Day of Music

Image of New Location
(via PianoForte Foundation)
As a young kid, I used to spend hours messing around on our family piano, so it give me great joy to welcome PianoForte and the PianoForte Foundation to the South Loop (from their Press Release):
PianoForte Foundation Executive Director Thomas Zoells announces that the PianoForte Foundation will move operations from the current location in the Fine Arts Building to a redeveloped industrial building at 1335 S. Michigan in Chicago's South Loop near the city’s historic Motor Row. It will re-open as PianoForte Studios – a New Center for the Piano - in October 2013. Grand Opening celebrations will include a mid-month ribbon cutting and a free day of music in the new space on Saturday, October 26.
The PianoForte Foundation, which currently occupies various spaces throughout the Fine Arts Building, will move to a new, custom-designed 11,000 square-foot building at 1335 S. Michigan Avenue. The light-filled, loft-style, three-story PianoForte Studios building will include a new 100-seat performance venue with state of the art audio and video recording capabilities; piano equipped, sound-proof practice rooms; flexible rental space for outside groups and ensembles and the headquarters of the PianoForte Foundation. PianoForte’s retail operations will also move to the new location with a first-floor showroom.
Congrats to them on the opening and welcome to the Sloop - glad to have you here!

Seems appropriate to embed this classic video:

Friday, October 25, 2013

Bacci Pizza Replaces Butterfield Kitchen at Roosevelt L Station

Back in January we got word that a vendor was finally going to occupy the retail space at the Roosevelt L station.  We deducted that it was a new concept called Butterfield Kitchen.  They subsequently opened in March.

Fast forward to October and it appears that they're being replaced by an "express" Bacci Pizza:
Bacci Pizza Express Replaces Buttefield Kitchen at Roosevelt L Station
For those of you who aren't familiar with Bacci, you probably haven't had a drunk experience at Wrigley field (we kid).  Bacci is well known for their "Jumbo Slice" and free pop.  We can attest that it's a big slide of pie.

While it may not be the best pizza in town, in our opinion it's adequate for what it is (and one slice is all you need to be full).

While it's not terribly surprising that a high-end breakfast/sandwich/lunch place wouldn't thrive at an L stop (considering the amount of solid and similar concepts in close proximity), we figured they would have lasted longer.  

A quick stop pizza spot seems more practical for the space.  We look forward to trying out a slice sometime soon (probably after a drunken night out on the town).

(Hat tip: CD!)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Panozzo's Closes for the Time Being; Evaluating Options

A reader reached out to us and gave us a tip that Panozzo's might be closing.   With that said, we emailed with the owner Mike Panozzo to get some clarity:
Today we posted a sign in the front door of Panozzo's telling customers that we are closed for the time being while we evaluate our options going forward. We're looking at every scenario possible in hopes that the store will re-open in some form. It has been a difficult time, although I believe the quality of our product and services always remained top notch. 
We made many changes, some more dramatic than others, but all we felt were necessary. We are fighting as hard as humanly possible because we love what we do and we love the South Loop. We believe independent businesses are what give a neighborhood its character, and we like to believe we are an important piece of that equation. We appreciate everyone's patience and understanding. We'll keep you posted. 
Mike Panozzo
Good luck to Panozzo's, we're rooting for you.  The neighborhood would definitely lose some character (and good eats) without you.

Jay-Z's Former Business Partners to Develop Two Towers in South Loop

South Loop riverfront development news involving the self proclaimed "Greatest Rapper of All Time" (via
Two former business partners of the celebrity Jay-Z are gearing up for a $180 million project on a site along the east bank of the Chicago River, across from the old Main Post Office, betting the white-hot demand for downtown apartments will continue. 
A venture that includes New York entrepreneurs Arnold “Alex” Bize and Naum Chernyavsky hopes to building two towers totaling at least 700 units on a 1.9-acre parcel along the river at Harrison Street, Mr. Chernyavsky said.
Ok, so doesn't really have much to do with Jay-Z besides an old business relationship, but it's good to hear there may be progress at this site.  Judging by the rest of the article it sounds like there is still a ways to go for the project (zoning hurdles still need to be cleared).

Anyway, last we heard the land was serving as a temporary set for the blockbuster film Divergent.

Regardless, it gives us a reason to post a Jay-Z video in honor of this story.... Jigga Man:

(Hat tip:  JJ & AR!)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Tour of the New Jones College Prep Building

A Nice View from the Seventh Floor Terrace at Jones College Prep (via Curbed Chicago)
We all know that the new Jones College Prep (700 S. State) building is a costly, state-of-the-art building, but most of us probably won't ever step inside.  The fine peeps at Curbed Chicago recently did and have shared some thoughts/pictures of the schools amenities:
Designed by Perkins+Will, the seven-story contemporary building has an impressive presence, occupying an entire block along State Street in the South Loop. Our tour begins in the lobby, a dramatic space with three-story ceilings, soaring columns, and a wall of full-height glass outfitted with sleek metallic elements. Other highlights: the landscaped seventh-floor terrace, one of three outdoor spaces scattered throughout the building, and the bright, airy natatorium. The 276,000-square foot facility, designed to accommodate 1,200 students, boasts an impressive resume of amenities, including a fitness center, student dining area with full cooking kitchen, auditorium, art studios, green roof, theater, and an outdoor reading garden.
Attrium entrance at Jones College Prep (via Curbed Chicago)
Library in the sky (via Curbed Chicago)
$115 million apparently can buy a pretty swanky school.  Looks nice to us.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

South Loop: Chicago's Original Hipster Haven?

Hipster Migration map (via Chicago Reader)
Love it or hate it, the "hipster" seems to be on everyones lips these days.  Typically the Sloop isn't associated with the term (unless you're talking about students from Columbia), but we recently read an interesting article on about Chicago's hipster migration history.

We were surprised to see them list the "South Loop" as the original hipster haven.  However, back in the early 1900s, the term didn't exist - they were called "Artists".

Anyway, here is what the article has to say about their contribution to society and where they hung out:
MAJOR EXPORTS: Painting, sculpture, writing, and cultural uplift. Even then, Chicagoans were distressed about not being as cool as New Yorkers. When Harriet Monroe, future editor of Poetry magazine, wrote an ode to the 1893 Columbian Exposition, it sold so few copies that she ended up using the surplus to fuel her bedroom stove. This setback made her and her confederates determined to improve literary and artistic culture in Chicago. 
CHIEF HANGOUT: First the Auditorium Hotel, then the Fine Arts Building, after its conversion from a factory and showroom for Studebaker carriages into the 19th-century version of an arts incubator. The Little Room took its name from a short story by Madeline Wynne, one of its members, about a room that disappears and reappears in different locations. Its most successful and long-lasting incarnation was painter Ralph Clarkson's studio. In later years, it calcified into a formal social club, decidedly nonhipster.
The article goes on to show the migration of the "hipster" through the years to its current neighborhood of choice, Logan Square.  It even attempts to show the future of the group, which may be our neighbor in Pilsen.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Haberdash Opens at Roosevelt Collection

Image from Racked Chicago
Shopping options for men in the Sloop are limited, but that has now changed as Haberdash, the upscale menswear store, has officially opened up at Roosevelt Collection (150 W. Roosevelt).  Racked Chicago has some pictures inside the store.  From what we can tell it looks pretty swank.

Congrats on the opening and can't wait to take a look inside.

Oh and if you're counting that's the eighth store to open at Roosevelt Collection.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Orange Line El Tracks on 18th Get a Makeover

A reader writes about some improvements to the Orange line El trackes on 18th between Clark and State:
El track makeover snakes into sloop. Not sure if this will go all the way to Roosevelt, but it shares looks better than the rust. This is 18th between Clark and state.

You may recall that this is part of the myriad of civic improvements touted by the city government that are happening in the Sloop.

(Hat tip:  MLG!)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

New Pet Adoption Center to Open inside 1101 S. Canal PetSmart

A reader sends us a link from Chicago Business:
PetSmart Charities is joining with Chicago's Anti-Cruelty Society to open on Oct. 20, a new pet adoption center inside the PetSmart store at 1101 S. Canal St. in Chicago's South Loop neighborhood. The new space will give more pets in Chicago a place to live while they wait for adopters and also free up more kennel space at the Chicago Anti-Cruelty Society's main shelter at 157 W. Grand Ave. in the River North neighborhood. PetSmart Charities said it expects the new facility will adopt out around 20 pets per week.
This gives us an opportunity to post this adorable video:

(Hat tip: KM!)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

South Branch of Red Line Set For Re-Opening on Sunday

So remember when the red line El south of Roosevelt closed for five months?

Well apparently that time has passed (via Chicagoist):
The south branch of the Red Line from 95th Street to Roosevelt Road will re-open to riders Oct. 20 with promises of shorter commutes and fewer breakdowns.
CTA long said the five-month long project had to happen to modernize a stretch of the agency’s busiest rail line, which hadn’t seen an overhaul since it opened in 1969. CTA conducted a test of the newly rebuilt section last Saturday with an eight-car test train of 5000-Series rail cars traveling for a round trip, reaching a maximum speed of 55 mph throughout the ride. The project is expected to reduce round trip travel times from Roosevelt Road to 95th Street by 20 minutes.
Surprisingly we didn't hear much fuss about this inconvenience.

(Hat tip:  KG!)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Bath and Beauty Store, Sabon, Coming to Roosevelt Collection

Sabon Store on Upper East Side in NYC (via Roosevelt Collection Blog)
A reader sent us a tip that the Roosevelt Collection blog has announced that the israel based bath and beauty store, Sabon, will be opening up shop at the complex:
We are happy to announce the late fall opening of Sabon at The Shops at Roosevelt Collection! As international purveyors of hand-made bath and beauty products with natural ingredients from the Dead Sea, Sabon’s products focus on the healing of mind, body and soul as well as the universal experience of caring for one’s skin and oneself.  
Following the design of Sabon boutiques around the world, the storefront at Roosevelt Collection will feature a large stone-carved sink at the center of the shop. This basin allows the cleansing and healing of the skin to become a communal process, a visual and sensual experience for each customer. Products are shelved in cabinets and on tables reminiscent of the same furniture found in one’s home, furthering the inviting yet intimate feel of the store.

We did some googling and it seems like there stores in New York have a pretty good reputation (4 to 4.5 stars on Yelp).

Is anyone familiar with them?

(Hat tip:  SP!)

Monday, October 14, 2013

New Ping Tom Field House Ribbon Cutting Today at 2pm

A reader sends us the following email:
We've done a couple posts on the topic.  Here is one with the original concept and an updated post about the pre-fabricated walls showing up.

(Hat tip:  JB & KM!)

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Shots Around the Sloop (Saturday Edition): Fun with Drones

Via Chicagoist:
While Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart lobbies to use drones for surveillance, they're already available to anyone with the money to spend. Case in point: Ben Raatz equipped his drone with a camera and took some stunning aerial video of Buckingham Fountain and the South Loop.

(Hat tip:  KM & DP!)

Chicago Marathon Weekend - Don't Forget

South Loop Portion of the Chicago Marathon Course

Yes, a fall Sunday can be hectic in the Sloop mostly thanks to Bears games, but Chicago Marathon Sunday tends to be the craziest.

With that said, don't forget that this Sunday is the Marathon.

For information on the race, check out their website.  For street closures click here or see below for Sloop streets:
24/ 25/26 Michigan Ave (35th St. to Roosevelt Rd.) closed between 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
26 Roosevelt Rd. (Michigan Ave. to Columbus Dr.) closed between 6 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Good luck to all the runners!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Dominick's Moving Out of Chicago; Jewel-Osco Buys 1340 S. Canal Dominick's

Dominick's at 1340 S. Canal
So apparently it's a big grocery store news week in Chicago and the Sloop.

Earlier this week it was the much anticipated opening of Mariano's at 1615 S. Clark.  Late yesterday it was news that Dominick's was closing all stores in Chicago (via Chicago Tribune):
Dominick's parent Safeway Inc. said Thursday it will leave the Chicago market by next year. 
What happens next for the 72 Chicago area Dominick's locations is still unclear. Safeway said it's trying to sell as many of the stores as quickly as it can, adding that it's likely to fetch multiple buyers as opposed to a single grocer that would take over every location.

What is clear is that Jewel-Osco has bought the Dominick's store at 1340 S. Canal (via Chicago Tribune):
Safeway issued a release late Thursday afternoon saying it had already sold four Dominick's to the operator of Jewel-Ocso stores. They are at 1340 S. Canal St. and 2550 N. Clybourn Ave. in Chicago; 14200 S. Bell Rd., Homer Glen; and 1340 Patriot Blvd., Glenview.

Apparently the Dominick's at 1340 S. Canal will transition to Jewel-Osco according to a press release on
During a short transition period, the stores will continue to operate under the Dominick's banner until Jewel-Osco can complete their conversion to Jewel-Osco stores. Dominick's will be working with Jewel-Osco and the unions to ease the transition for store employees, and to facilitate continued employment for as many of them as possible. 
So that's surprising on many levels to us:
  1. Is Jewel-Osco planning on closing their current South Loop store at Roosevelt and Wabash?
  2. Is the Dominick's at 1340 S. Canal bigger or more desirable than the Jewel-Osco at Roosevelt/Wabash?
  3. If Jewel-Osco is closing, what does that mean for the extremely high profile space at Roosevelt/Wabash?
Obviously some of the questions are hypothetical and will probably play out over the next couple of months or years.

To take another big leap, we've heard rumors last year about a mixed use residential/retail building replacing the Jewel-Osco - however we were always skeptical about this one.

What do you make of this new?

(Hat tip:  MR!)

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Don't Blink! Blink Lash Studio Closes; Activity at 1400 S. Michigan

A reader tipped us that the Blink Lash Studio, who opened at 1317 S. Michigan in January, has apparently closed.  We recently walked by and can confirm that is the case as there is nothing inside and for lease signs all over the front door and windows.

In other South Michigan retail news, there seems to be some action at the old space of Caring Hands Pet Spa (1400 S. Michigan):
Brown paper on the windows at the old Caring Hands Pet Spa (1400 S. Michigan)
We also some construction workers removing old drywall from the building.  Unfortunately the construction workers didn't know what was going in (or weren't willing to part with that information).  Does anyone have the scoop on this one?

Finally, Giordano's looks primed for their opening at 1340 South Michigan (last we heard they were shooting for late October opening).  Just across the street Piano Forte (1335 S. Michigan) has been hard at work on their buildout and seems to be making significant progress.

(Hat tip: JK!)

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Devil Dawgs Bringing the Devil to 767 S. State

Looks like South State street is getting a taste of the devil.  Various readers have sent us images and emails:
FYI, I was walking home from work today and it looks like Devil Dawgs is opening up a second location at 767 S State. There were some signs up in the windows saying it was coming soon, and a snippet at the end of this article mentions it.
We weren't familiar with Devil Dawgs, but apparently their original store in Lincoln Park has good reviews - 4 stars on Yelp.

Additional Update:
Devil Dawgs is replacing Young's Cleaners.  However, they did not close they just moved around the corner and reside on 8th street in the same building.

(Hat tip: MK, MJ, RD, CD!)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Good Times in the Sloop: Mariano's Opens at 1615 S. Clark

Mariano's at 1615 S. Clark - Opening Night Party
Sloopers rejoice - another highly anticipated grocery store has opened up a glistening, brand new store in the South Loop.  Mariano's is officially open at 1615 S. Clark!

That makes our neighborhood one with a plethora of grocery stores.  Mariano's moves into a crowded space with competitors such as Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Dominick's, Jewel and Target all within a quarter of a mile of each other (not to mention all the other "specialty convenience" stores spattered around the neighborhood).

If the above seems silly, it's because in our opinion it is slightly silly to get super excited about a grocery store opening up.    

But that's fine, because it shows that the neighborhood has evolved.  Back in 2010, the number one story we had on our site was about the opening of Trader Joe's (according to Google Analytics).  Now while we assume everyone is happy about Mariano's opening it seems like the Sloop is bigger and better than the opening of a fancy new grocery store.

Don't get us wrong, we're excited to have the new store open.  But it's not the most exciting thing going on in the Sloop.  Residential and commercial real estate has begun to pick up.  Positive press continues to sprout up.  The neighborhood discourse seems to be encouraging and best of all there seems to be genuine pride on every block throughout the neighborhood.

So yes, Mariano's opening is good news.  But remember the Sloop is on the up and up!

Oh and about the Mariano's (via Press Release):
Roundy’s, Inc. (“Roundy’s”) (NYSE: RNDY), a leading grocer in the Midwest, tomorrow will open Mariano’s South Loop – its 12th Chicagoland location – adding 425 new jobs to the Chicago economy and bringing the vibrant neighborhood fresh seasonal produce, organic meats and specialty local offerings that are part of Mariano’s signature grocery experience.  
The new store, located at 1615 S. Clark Street will feature popular products from local gourmet food purveyors, like Grandma Maude’s and Esther’s Authentic Foods, as well as 200 organic choices in produce, a meat department with a specialty grill station, and fresh artisan breads baked daily.

And as you may or may not be able to see in the picture above, they threw a grand opening party last night.

Congrats to Mariano's on the opening.  Good times in the Sloop!

Additional Info:  Here is a nice video done by NBC5.  Talks about Mariano's but also has good things to say about the South Loop's growth.

(Old Sloopin Mariano's Link)

(Hat tip: TW!)

Monday, October 7, 2013

Broad Shoulders Brewery Moving Along Slowly - Shooting for Early 2014 Opening

It's been slow process for the fine peeps at Broad Shoulders Brewery (2337 S. Michigan) in their attempt to open up shop in Motor Row.  We first heard about the project back in June of 2011 and since then their have been many bumps in the road.

But apparently that's not deterring them from chasing the dream.  If you look at their Facebook page you will understand things are moving forward, even if it's at a much slower pace than anticipated:

The good news for the brewery is that there still seems to be immense interest in the project from the South Loop community (hence all of our posts) and even the broader Chicagoland area.  Recently Time Out Chicago called out some of the more anticipated upcoming brewery openings and Broad Shoulders got some love:
After starting at Goose Island’s brewpub and Fulton Avenue production facility and then moving to Milwaukee’s Lakefront Brewing as their quality control manager, head brewer Frank Lassandrello saw the quality assurance issues that can occur when you fight for shelf space, which is why freshness is paramount to him.  
“A lot of beer sits for a very long time,” he says, which is why he was planning on Broad Shoulders being a production facility for distribution of Lake Shore Drive Lager and Blue Eyed Blonde kegs only—until the neighborhood told him they wanted a taproom as well.  
After adjusting his plans accordingly, he’ll have a space for growler fills and special-release 22-ounce bombers. The taproom features tables made from reclaimed ceiling joists pulled from his historic Motor Row building. 

(Hat tip: KP!)

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Get Your Sloopin Hat Tip T-Shirt!

It's been 3 weeks and we want to encourage those of you who have submitted stores and received hat tips to claim your Sloopin hat tip t-shirt.

If you're initials are below and you submitted a tip/topic/pic email us

  • AB
  • NPL
  • KP
  • CM
  • GM
  • JW
  • LL
  • RR
  • MC
  • TC
  • AW
  • KP
  • KF
  • TT
  • JN
  • KM
  • JH

Thanks to everyone and PLEASE continue to send us stuff!  Without you Sloopin wouldn't be what it is.

Shots Around the Sloop: Double Rainbow Perfection

(Hat tip:  AD!)

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Redevelopment of Old Harold Ickes Homes Moving Slowly

WBEZ shines light on the lack of action around the plan to redevelop the former site of the infamous Harold Ickes Homes:
Old Harold Ickes Homes (Image from WBEZ)
Residents of a former Chicago public housing development in the South Loop are angry that the DePaul University stadium is moving faster than replacement housing for them. 
In 1999, the Chicago Housing Authority began tearing down public housing as part of its $1.6 billion Plan for Transformation. The agency promised residents the right to return in new mixed-income communities. That included residents living in the Harold Ickes Homes near 22nd and State Street. The last building came down three years ago.

So what's next for this large, high-profile piece of property:
In an annual plan CHA sends to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development says this about Ickes: “CHA plans to issue a joint developer solicitation with the City of Chicago in FY2014 to redevelop the proposed portions of land pending disposition approval as a mixed use development, which may include public housing and other residential, commercial, institutional, recreational and other land uses. CHA plans to bring back mixed-income housing, including public housing units, on remaining portions of the Ickes site.”  
Originally, the Plan for Transformation was a five-year plan. Today, it’s supposed to be completed by 2015. That would mean the CHA would have to deliver a whopping 7,000 units by then to meet its 25,000 replacement unit goal.

Should be interesting to see how this one plays out.

Real Estate Values in the Sloop - Mixed Opinions

Friday, October 4, 2013

British School of Chicago Delayed a Year Due to Merger

Planned British School of Chicago (via DNAinfo)
In case you missed this story, the British School of Chicago, who was planning on building a brand new building just north of Roosevelt Collection has been delayed (via Gazette):
Plans to open a new South Loop campus for the British School of Chicago have been pushed back to 2015 as a result of a merger between the World Class Learning (WCL) Group and Nord Anglia Education.  
The British School is a part of the WCL schools network. The partnership unites Nord Anglia Education’s 14 schools throughout Europe, the Middle East, and Asia with WCL’s 11 schools in North America, Qatar, and Spain.  
The combined organization will operate 25 schools in 11 countries educating more than 14,500 students. The site of the new school, just north of McCaffery Interests’ Roosevelt Collection mixed use development on Roosevelt Road, sparked debate for months because the original Roosevelt Collection plan called for a 2.2-acre public park at that same location.
Judging from the article it sounds like the school will still move forward.  However, whenever something like this happens we become a little skeptical.  Time will tell.

(Hat tip:   JH & SC!) Exquisite, Fun & Affordable Dining Options without Leaving the Comforts of Your Home

It's well documented that we get really excited to go out in the Sloop and try out all of the dining options our fine neighborhood has to offer.

However, sometimes going out can be burdensome.  Lack of reservation times.  Slow service.  Annoying crowds. You get the idea!

That's why we were so intrigued by a new concept called Kitchensurfing.  Their website sums up the concept pretty succinctly:
Ok, so the idea is that you need a chef for something. Anything.

So how does it work?  They break it down to five steps:
1)  Tell them what you're after (party size, budget, date, etc).
2)  They reference their database of chefs and provide matches based on step 1
3)  You review the chefs that met your criteria and pick one
4)  Next, you work with the chef to customize your menu
5)  Then you book your chef!

Yup, that's pretty much it.

Chef Kristin Koury
We recently tried it out and had an amazing time with Chef Kristin Koury.  She was right on time and was immediately accommodating, personable and warm.  She brought her supplies up, looked at our kitchen and then said, "thanks, that's all I need".  She immediately put us at ease and made us confident that all would be fine.

She provide all the food.  We provide our kitchen, silverware, plates, bowls and wine glasses.

Fast forward an hour later and our friends had arrived.  In total there were six of us.  We poured our own wine and then the fun began!  Our delicious four course meal started with a surprise shrimp gyoza appetizer (yes, that means we got an extra course - five courses!):

Not only was everything delicious, it was well timed, beautifully presented and we asked a ton of questions and Chef Kristin had great feedback (so we actually learned a bit).  

Highlights included amazingly tender and flavorful short ribs.  The macarons were also a treat and that's coming from a person who typically doesn't like macarons.

Once the meal was over, Kristin cleaned up our kitchen, silverware, plates, bowls, wine glasses and even the top of our stove (which was definitely not clean when she walked in), which was a nice little bonus and is part of the Kitchensurfing experience.

So what is the moral of the story?  If you're looking for an alternative dining option - whether it's a dinner party, a lunch or a cooking class - give Kitchensurfing a try.  Based on our experience you won't be disappointed - it's fun, delicious, easy and affordable.  

And if you're lucky you may end up with a kitchen that was cleaner than before your chef arrived.     

Editorial Disclaimer - no payment was exchanged between Sloopin and Kitchensurfing for this review.  All services and supplies were provided by Kitchensurfing. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Bevello Opens at Roosevelt Collection; Sleepy's Mattress Opens at 605 W. Roosevelt

Businesses continue to open up shop in the Sloop.

Bevello, the women's retailer with a "boutique" type of experience, has opened up it's doors at Roosevelt Collection:
Inside bevello at Roosevelt Collection (image from Roosevelt Collection)
 By our count this marks the seventh store to open at Roosevelt Collection this year.

Just down the street a new mattress store, Sleepy's, has officially opened their doors at 605 W. Roosevelt:
Welcome to both businesses!

The 2013 business counter has now been updated as well.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

"Roosevelt Corridor" Thriving: Pier 1 & Petco Sign Lease

More good real estate news for the Sloop.  The "Roosevelt Corridor" is thriving according to a story in
Petco Animal Supplies Inc. and Pier 1 Imports Inc. have agreed to open stores in the Roosevelt Road corridor, a retail strip that's thriving in part because of a lack of nearby competition.
Petco will take over space between 603 and 627 W. Roosevelt (in the same complex as the newly opened Vitamin Shoppe and Sleepy's).

Construction Sign at the Maxwell listing retailers
Pier 1 Imports will be moving into the massive Maxwell development that is shooting for an opening date of September 2014.  We recently did a post on the development and totally missed the fact that the Pier 1 logo was on the sign in our picture.  Oops!

The more interesting story is the evolving notion of why this stretch is coming alive:
“What Roosevelt Road has turned into is what North Avenue is,” Mr. Annenberg said, referring to the main drag in the Clybourn Corridor. 
Retailers are drawn to Roosevelt Road because the nearby residential population has boomed, and the nearest shopping area to the south is more than six miles away, said Allen Joffe, principal at Chicago-based Baum Realty Group LLC, who isn't involved in either transaction.  
That means retailers can draw in shoppers from a broad area.  
“Your next really vital shopping area is really Hyde Park,” Mr. Joffe said.

This development might seem like it happened quickly, it's a vision many people in the Sloop have been talking about for years (including us way back in 2010).  It seemed bound to happen and it appears it is now.

While some may cringe at the notion of big box retailers coming to the neighborhood in mass, we think this is a good development.  As you head east over the river and into the heart of the South Loop you are still seeing new local restaurants, bars and retail operations popping up.  The more people that come to the neighborhood the better - whether it's for big box shopping or local nightlife.

(Hat tip:  KM!)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Police on the Scene: West of Chicago River and South of Roosevelt for Possible Standoff

A scary scene just west of the Chicago River and south of Roosevelt Road (via Chicago Tribune):
Police were at the scene of a standoff with a man with a rifle and a large knife that started late this morning at a South Loop rail yard. Police were on the scene of a possible standoff south of Roosevelt Road at Lumber Street, west of the Chicago River, according to Chicago Police. Amtrak police discovered someone trespassing on railroad property and the person may be threatening suicide, police said.

A reader sent us this note and picture:
Currently happening in the brown lands. At first we thought it was part of the Transformers movie.
We will post more as we read more.

A standoff involving a man with a rifle and a large knife that started late this morning at a South Loop rail yard ended peacefully a little after 1 p.m.

(Hat tip:  JN!)

Details and Renderings Emerge From Roosevelt Streetscape Meeting

Rendering of proposed raised two-way bike lane
looking East from Roosevelt/Wabash intersection (image from
Just last week we posted about a community event discussing the potential streetscape improvements to Roosevelt Road.  Unfortunately we couldn't attend, but thankfully the good people at had an extensive recap:
At a community meeting Tuesday at Columbia College, Chicago Department of Transportation Project Director Janet Attarian outlined plans for the new Roosevelt Road streetscape from State Street to Columbus Drive. The project will include a groundbreaking new segment of sidewalk-level, two-way bicycle lane, part of a bike-friendly route to and from the lakefront. The info session, hosted by aldermen Pat Dowell (3rd) and Will Burns (4th), also covered CDOT’s proposal for a new protected bike lane on State Street from 18th Street to 26th Street in Bronzeville – we’ll have a report on that project soon. 
The new sidewalk bikeway, which Attarian referred to as a “sidepath,” will be built on the north side of Roosevelt between Wabash Street and Indiana Avenue, connecting with multiuse paths through Grant Park. The streetscape project will also include pedestrian improvements and high-capacity bus shelters.

Beyond recapping the various topics discussed, the blog also has renderings that show what may be in store:
Proposed improvements Roosevelt between State and Wabash 
Proposed improvements for Roosevelt between Wabash and Michigan
Proposed improvements for Roosevelt between Michigan and Indiana

Their post provides a ton of other details and is definitely worth a read.  For instance they go into depth about the thinking as to why the protected raised bike lane needs to stop at Indiana as opposed to Columbus.

While this is a distinctive and drastic change to Roosevelt, it still doesn't do much for the stretch of Roosevelt west of State - where bikers tend to be at more risk from the amount of cars/buses.  However, this is a "pilot" and if it proves successful then it could mean additional improvements for bikers along Roosevelt and throughout the city.

Should be interesting to see how this pans out.  What do you think?  Good?  Bad?  Indifferent?

(Hat tip:  TT!)