Monday, March 31, 2014

Advice Needed: A UChicago Resident's Looking Into the Sloop

A reader who is moving to Chicago is looking for some advice:
Hey there,  
I recently found out that I'll be starting my medical residency at UChicago in June, and everyone has been telling me that I should move to South Loop. While moving across the country after a decade in Florida is daunting for the obvious reasons, having little to no familiarity with the city only complicates the transition.  
I was hoping you would be able to provide me a little insight on the areas of South Loop that I should be focusing on during my apartment hunt, and if you have any tips or tools that could simplify my search.  
Thanks in advance for the help. I've been reading your blog since I found out I'd be coming to Chicago, and it's only gotten me more excited to finally make the move.  
All the best.

Obviously we're a little biased, but generally speaking we think the South Loop is a great place for a lot of reasons.

For people like you it's a great way to be in the heart of the city, but avoid the longer commute if you were to live in the North or West sides (that's probably the most practical reason people are giving you this advice).

In regard to neighborhoods within the Sloop, you can't go wrong in our opinion.  Printers Row is a little more "urban" than other parts, but has a fascinating history and everything you could need within a block or two.  South of Roosevelt is great as well - however the further you go south the less there is going on (from a retail, foot traffic standpoint - but that's changing on a daily basis).  It's also more residential than further north in the South Loop.

South of 18th is still pretty desolate.  South of 16th is quiet.  South of 14th is active, but not overwhelming.  Between Roosevelt and 14th is busy, but not like a loop or lincoln park (popular north side neighborhood) type of way.

However in reality, we wanted to post this because the Sloopin readers can give you a better sense of what they like and where you should look.

So readers - help him out, what do you think?

(Hat tip: MP!)

Saturday, March 29, 2014

City on the Make: Manny's

A cool video series of Chicago Landmarks in the web series City on the Make.  In this episode they look at a South Loop classic:

Friday, March 28, 2014

Entertainment Agency - Exact Entertainment - Opens at 161 W. Harrison

A reader writes:
Looks like there is a new PR agency on the very edge of the Sloop… 161 West Harrison… Exact Entertainment (
So what is Exact Entertainment?  According to their website:
Our Mission: 
To provide our clients with a level of service that is severely lacking in the current Film and Entertainment Industry. Our commitment revolves around 5 basic moral principles: Integrity, Honesty, Responsibility, Diligence, and Loyalty.

Well there you have it.  A new business in the Sloop.  Welcome!

Business Counter is updated and we're back in the black!

(Hat tip:  DWK!)

McPier Sues to Move Prairie Ave. Mansion Up the Street

Rees House at 2110 S. Prairie
(via CRED)
This is a story from a couple of weeks ago, but it's still worth posting about (via
The city convention authority has gone to court to seize the site of a landmarked Prairie Avenue mansion where it wants to build a new basketball arena for DePaul University. 
The Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, or McPier, wants to move the Harriet F. Rees House, a 126-year-old limestone edifice, from 2110 S. Prairie Ave. to a vacant parcel one block north, according to a lawsuit the authority filed March 14. McPier filed the condemnation suit because it has been unable to reach an agreement to acquire the two properties, the complaint says.

While McPier naysayers will probably cry foul, in our opinion this isn't that bad.  The Rees House is a beauty, but frankly is on a lonely island since many of the other mansions are long gone.  Moving it up a block will bring it closer to some of the remaining mansions that still exist on Prairie Ave.

The article also provides some history on the Rees House:
Built in 1888, the Rees House was placed on the National Register of Historic Buildings and named a Chicago landmark in 2012, according to the complaint. The mansion is one of seven historic homes still standing on Prairie Avenue between 18th Street and Cermak Road, according to a 2012 report about the home prepared for the Commission on Chicago Landmarks.  
“Designed by nationally renowned architects Cobb & Frost, it is an excellent and remarkably intact example of the Romanesque Revival style as expressed in the urban townhouse type,” the report said. “The ornate limestone exterior and the interior detailed in rich woods and filled with fireplaces and other built-in features, is virtually unchanged from its original historic appearance.”  
The home is named for Harriet F. Rees, widow of real estate pioneer and land surveyor, James H. Rees, who lived there until her death in 1892, the report said. The home, which was used as a restaurant for a while starting 1970, was purchased by the Martorina family in 2001.

(Hat tip:  AR!)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Local Tourist Takes A Tour of First Draft (649 S. Clark)

A lot has been made about the race between First Draft (649 S. Clark) and Villain's (730 S. Clark) to see which bar would open first.  Clearly it's not a race, but it does sound like there will be two solid drinking establishments opening up soon on South Clark.

Over the past couple of weeks we've posted about Villain's and new information trickling out about their build-out.  Today we read a good post on The Local Tourist about First Draft:
Inside First Draft (via The Local Tourist)
As the Chicago beer scene continues to explode, so does the list of places we can go to enjoy a good beer. The hottest neighborhood right now for the brewing industry is the South Loop. At least three new breweries are moving into the neighborhood and along with a number of bars designed specifically for hop heads, beer geeks and people who work in the Loop.  
On the cusp of opening is First Daft on Clark Street. Run by a group of South Loop locals, First Draft will be a mixture of neighborhood sports bar and draught beer sanctuary. Owner Tommy Bystol has worked in the neighborhood’s bar and nightlife scene for nearly a decade and is building First Draft as an upscale bar with an emphasis on unique and flavorful beer.  
The new bar will have 64 draft lines covering 20 plus styles of beer, 25 flat screen TVs, and a custom-built dual temperature cooler to kegs at the perfect temperature. To ensure every drink is as fresh as possible, the most of the beer will be drawn out of sixth barrels – aka five gallon torpedo kegs. This allows Bystol to order fresh beer when it’s needed instead of watching a half barrel slowly age.

Glad to hear The Local Tourist sees the Sloop as one of the hottest neighborhoods for the brewing industry.  Nice to read positive comments about the burgeoning brew establishments in the hood.

A Look Back at the Infamous Lexington Hotel at Michigan and Cermak

The Sloop's history has a colorful past.  One of the main reasons is due to the infamous gangster Al Capone.  As part of Curbed Chicago's "Hotel Week" they had a brief, but fun post looking back at the infamous hotel:
Al Capone had a lot of stomping grounds during his time in Chicago, like the former Lexington Hotel in the South Loop, where the mobster lived for three years between 1928 and 1931. Capone and his gang occupied the fourth and fifth floors of the hotel, which became a sanctuary for illicit activities. The famous gangster had his own personal suite featuring a pea-green and lavender tiled bathroom and had a view of 22nd and Michigan. In 1986, the hotel was the subject of Geraldo Rivera's live syndicated television show to break open what was thought to be Capone's vault. However, nothing of value was found.
The Lexington Hotel (photo via My Al Capone Museum)
Geraldo Rivera and crew unlocking the "treasures" of Capone's vault. (image via Free Republic)
The hotel is long gone and has been replaced by The Lex apartment building.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Overheard in the Sloop: Orange/Green Line CTA Stop

An elderly African American woman struggling to walk up the large staircase at the south entrance of the Orange/Green Line CTA stop at Roosevelt.  Two large Jewel grocery bags flanked on each side.

Young African American kid with flat bill baseball hat, large headphones around his neck and decked out in the latest gear - two steps behind her.

"Miss, can I help?"

"Sure!  Thank you very much gentleman."

Niu B (888 S.Michigan) Gets Awning And Progressing Towards Opening

Back in January we posted about a new Asian Fusion restaurant moving into the former OYSY sushi restaurant at 888 S. Michigan.

A reader sent us a pic and it looks like things are moving forward:

We did some more google searching and found an update on Metromix:
After closing their River North Chinese restaurant Red Violet in May, the owners of Niu Japanese Fusion Lounge decided to take over Oysy's former digs in the South Loop, where they'll be serving Asian fusion small plates, sushi and some favorites from Niu. This space is significantly smaller than their Streeterville location, so expect a much smaller menu. They're also ditching Oysy's colorful pallet in favor of darker hues for a more lounge-like vibe. The restaurant is expected to open in late March or early April. 
We've actually ate at Red Violet and had a solid lunch.  Nothing out of this world, but definitely good.  It's not super surprising that they ended up closing in River North though.  It's a crowded neighborhood and you have to really do something different or well to stand out.

Regardless, glad to see them moving into the neighborhood and we imagine they will do well with hotel guests and the like.

(Hat tip:  OI!)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Toppers Expanding Throughout the City; Adding Two Other Locations in the Sloop?

Via Chicago Sun-Times:
You don’t need a business degree to know Toppers Pizza could work in Wrigleyville.
The restaurant chain, which caters to college students with late-night hours and unusual toppings (tater tots, mac and cheese), is moving into the former Swan Cleaners at 3404 N. Sheffield in August.
“We are 78 percent delivery, and one of our key differentiators is that we are open until 3 a.m.,” said Chris Cheek, chief development officer for Toppers, which got its start in Champaign.
“We are looking for areas with a lot of night traffic, foot traffic and nightlife.”

Makes sense to us, but what doesn't make a ton of sense is another note about expansion in the Sloop:
The Wisconsin-based company, which has restaurants in Greektown and the South Loop, plans to open stores in Andersonville over the summer and Lincoln Park in the fall. Franchise-owned locations are slated for Bucktown this summer, with another in Oak Park and two more in the South Loop by year-end.
Two more spots in the South Loop?  Seems strange to us.  Where could they be going?  Maybe somewhere south of Roosevelt?  Or maybe it's in the Loop, but just the south part of the Loop?  We shall see.

If you remember, Toppers opened in the Sloop back in late 2012.  While it ain't gourmet pizza, it ain't bad for the cost.

Motor Row "Lacks Warmth"; O'Malley Solves Part of Litigation Problem

Chicago Business Daily recently had an article about the old Chicago Defender Building getting a new owner and leasee.
2400 S. Michigan. Photo from CoStar Group Inc.
After sitting empty for years, the historic former Chicago Defender building in Motor Row has a new owner and a new tenant.
Ventures led by Chicago developer Alexander Pearsall paid $6 million for the newspaper's former headquarters at 2400 S. Michigan Ave., an adjacent land parcel and small commercial buildings to the west and south of the Defender building, a city landmark, according to county records. The Pearsall ventures bought the properties from two investor groups led by Chicago restaurant operator Matthew O'Malley, the records show.
Mr. Pearsall also has leased the 50,000-square-foot Defender building and the 10,000-square-foot commercial structure at 2412 S. Michigan Ave. to events management and production company Revel Group, said Britt Whitfield, president of Chicago-based Revel.

While it's interesting that this old historic and once prominent building looks to be getting some TLC, there were two other items that were of more interest to us.

One was the new owners comment about the neighborhood:
The neighborhood has “no warmth to it yet. They're going to have to focus on the inside (of the building) rather than sell the district,” he said. 
Revel Group's Ms. Whitfield acknowledged Motor Row is still transforming, but she believes the market already exists for a new events space in the area. 
“There is a very big desire for groups coming into town for shows to stay as close as they can to McCormick Place,” she said. 
Ms. Whitfield envisions CEOs, for example, in town for a week for a convention staying in the ex-Defender building and using rooms in the property to hold off-site meetings.
While we don't disagree it was just strange to read.  Seems like a big duh.

Finally, and maybe the most intriguing thing in the article, was that this apparently has resolved a lingering issue for a South Loop retail pioneer:
The sale of the Defender building, meanwhile, has solved a legal hurdle for Mr. O'Malley, an owner of Chicago-based Mainstay Hospitality LLC, a restaurant group that owns the Chicago Firehouse Restaurant in the South Loop. 
Mr. O'Malley's venture bought the property in 2007 for $4.1 million, but following the real estate crash the group was never able to redevelop it. In 2011, Mr. O'Malley's lender filed a $3.3 million foreclosure suit against the property. The foreclosure case was dismissed in late February, following the sales, according to an online court docket.

As you may recall, in the fall of last year Mr. O'Malley penned a note explaining the situation and assuring the South Loop his current restaurants aren't going anywhere.

Phew...that was a lot!

But good news all around.  I think.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Shred 451 Opening at Roosevelt Collection

We weren't familiar with Shred 451, but apparently it's pretty popular in Chicago (via Crain's):
Bonnie Micheli, left, and Tracy Roemer
Credit: Kendall Karmanian (via Crain's)
If workout moguls Jillian Michaels, Tracy Anderson and, of course, Jane Fonda have taught us anything, it's that personal branding is just as important as better bods when it comes to building a fitness empire. 
Shred415 co-founders Bonnie Micheli and Tracy Roemer seem to have both nailed. 
They've taken high-intensity interval training, added hot playlists and hotter instructors and turned it all into a rapidly growing business. Waitlists stretch to as long as a month, as Chicagoans clamor to hand over $24 for a single class to sprint up treadmill hills and lift weights.

And they're growing:
But Mses. Micheli and Roemer aim to get really big first. A fourth Shred415 in Wicker Park will open next month, a fifth in the South Loop's Roosevelt Collection shortly thereafter, and their first studio outside Illinois, in suburban St. Louis, this summer. A seventh location is planned in the western suburbs for later this year; they foresee opening another four or five in metro Chicago eventually.
A variety of businesses seems like a good thing for Roosevelt Collection.  It was mostly just shops in 2013, but this year appears to be restaurants, doctors and gyms.  A good add.

(Hat tip: AN& KP!)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Shots Around the Sloop: Send Us Yours!

It's Sunday morning and usually on Sloopin we post our favorite reader submitted Shots Around the Sloop.  Well, we're running low and wanted to send a reminder email to you, our loyal readers to send us your pics.

If yours is used, you could be elligible for a sweet Sloopin Hat Tip t-shirt!

So as the weather warms up (maybe - is there really snow on the ground again this morning!?!?!?!), head outside and shoot some shots around the Sloop!

Oh - and we won't keep you waiting anymore here is a cool shot taking by the fine peeps at YoChicago from a helicopter tour they took last year:
via YoChicago

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Wealthiest Sloopers Apparently Live in Printers Row

In case you care (via Curbed Chicago):
Thanks to statistician and data enthusiast Stephen R. Higley, who has pored over heaps of census data from the 2010 United States Census, we now have a definitive breakdown of which Chicago neighborhoods are the wealthiest in all of the city. Of course, if you've lived in the Windy City for more than a couple of years, you could probably guess the top ten, but today we bring you the list that has census data backing it. Many of the wealthiest communities in the greater metro area fall outside of city limits, but we are only focusing on Chicago neighborhoods (sorry suburban readers). So without further adieu, here are Chicago's ten richest neighborhoods by mean household income.
The following neighborhoods are listed with their mean income:
10. Near West Side-River West ($86,168)
9. Printers Row-Dearborn Park ($88,482)
8. The Loop ($91,033)
7. River North ($100,607)
6. Old Town ($104,060)
5. The Near North ($105,586)
4. Streeterville ($107,276)
3. Lincoln Park ($115,856)
2. New East Side/Lake Shore East ($122,145)
1. The Gold Coast ($153,358)
That's it - I'm moving to Printer's Row.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Piano Forte Brings Keyboard Sign to Michigan Avenue

We love music and we love pianos.  We were excited when Piano Forte decided to open up shop 1335 S. Michigan.  They've been open for awhile, but they just got a new sign and it looks pretty rad.  A reader sends us this image:

Different and unique - we like it!

...and this gives us an excuse to post a great piano youtube video (albeit nothing to do with Chicago or the Sloop):

(Hat tip: JH!)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Crain's Confirms: 469-Unit Tower Coming to 1000 S. Clark

Rendering of 1000 S. Clark from
Chicago Architecture Blog
There have been some rumblings about activity at 1000 S. Clark in 2014.  To recap, a reader sent us a picture of a truck taking soil borings back in January.  Then just last week, we posted about some sleek, glassy renderings appearing on the Chicago Architecture Blog.

Now crains confirms that this is in fact true:
As he wraps up apartment projects in Old Town and Wrigleyville, developer Jim Letchinger is preparing to launch an even bigger one in the South Loop.
Mr. Letchinger said he plans a 469-unit tower at 1000 S. Clark St., just north of the Target store on Roosevelt Road. He is “very, very close” to securing a construction loan for the development, which he would build in a joint venture with lender iStar Financial Inc. iStar which took the property back from its prior owner in 2011.
“We're working with three different lenders and trying to decide which way to go,” Mr. Letchinger said.

Though apartment rents and occupancies in the greater downtown have begun to slip after surging the past few years, developers continue to push forward with new high-rises. Builders are expected to complete more than 6,000 apartments downtown this year and next, and some landlords worry that demand won't keep up with supply.
Though we're not super jazzed about the design, in our opinion anything that adds density to the neighborhood is probably a good thing (some will definitely disagree with this idea).

This is right next door to the existing AMLI tower and the additional buildings they're working on at the corner of Polk and Clark.  The chairman of AMLI echos our thoughts:
“While I am always concerned about new supply and while we will clearly be impacted by this many new units (in the JDL project), on balance this will finish out Clark between Loop and Roosevelt,” Amli Chairman and CEO Greg Mutz wrote in an email. “Will bring more pedestrian traffic, more cabs and support more restaurants. All in all a net positive after the agony of a lease-up.”
So more residential appears to be coming to the Sloop (as we just mentioned on two days ago).

Are things heating up in a good way or a bad way?

(Hat tip:  JJ!)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Shots Around the Sloop:
Life at The Grant, South Loop Luxury by Related

Sponsored Post

It’s clear that life in the South Loop is hard to beat. With the charm of a budding local neighborhood, the South Loop offers a convenient and tailored lifestyle thanks to quick access to major retail and grocery stores, a handful of cultural offerings in the area, and a selection of gastronomical restaurants. With the feeling of being connected to a bustling city yet with the tranquility of a protected community, it’s no wonder why the South Loop is an ideal neighborhood to call home.

For a home defined by generous open space and exceptional contemporary design, visit the residences that define South Loop Luxury. In this sophisticated setting, you can enjoy unrivaled condominium living and enduring value, coupled with spectacular vistas overlooking Chicago’s vibrant, diverse, and hip lakeside neighborhood.

Open houses are on Saturday and Sunday from Noon-4 PM at The Grant. Please call us at 312-662-1900 to schedule a private showing.

Learn more at

Bridgeport Coffee Named as One of City's Best 18 Coffee Shops

Bridgeport Coffee Company at Roosevelt Collection
Bridgeport Coffee Company website)
Coffee is special.  Finding a good cup can be tough.  Chicagoist ranks Chicago's best 18 and includes Birdgeport Coffee as one:
Bridgeport Coffee Company Mike Pilkington took a chance on opening a coffeehouse on the South side long before anyone wanted to do business south of Madison Street. Ten years later Bridgeport Coffee Company is still going strong at its flagship shop at 31st and Morgan and two new shops at the Roosevelt Collection retail/residential complex in the South Loop and the Hyde Park Art Center. Pilkington and his staff roast their own beans in a fluid bed roaster, which pushes the beans in the air slightly to allow for a more even roast and little burn. The result are flavorful coffee blends that don’t overpower the palate and appeal to both coffee aficionados and generations of Bridgeport residents who grew up on Hills Brothers, Chock Full O’ Nuts and chicory-blended coffees.

Nice to have them in the hood!

(Hat tip:  KM!)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Thrillist Lists Jimmy Green's "Jumbo Bloody Mary" 3rd Most Ridiculous in Chicago

Jumbo Bloody Mary at Jimmy Greens (via Thrillest)
A pretty funny read at Thrillist ranking Chicago's most ridiculous Bloody Marys.  We laugh and tend to agree:
3. KETTLE ONE JUMBO BLOODY MARY Jimmy Green's (825 S. State)
"Jimmy Green’s combines both of our city’s loves (hot dogs and sports) with a mini-yet-mighty Chicago-style dog atop its Bloody. This will make those early morning World Cup matches (and watching soccer) tolerable."


If you're wondering what could beat that - it's the Bloody at Sunda:
1. SUMO MARY Sunda
"Good luck wrestling the city's most ridiculous Bloody Mary. 32oz of Bloody mix and Absolut Chicago vodka (distilled Ditka sweat?) in a mason jar, boldly garnished with: Chinese broccoli, loompya stick, herb-roasted potatoes, Oshinko, tocino grilled cheese, baked snow crab hand roll, duck bao, braised pork belly, and three slices of bacon. Come for the vodka and tomato juice, stay for the Chinese buffet perched on top."

Sloop Listed as One of Chicago's Top Neighborhoods by Chicago Magazine

Chicago's Best Neighborhood 2014 Map from Chicago Magazine
Chicago Magazine recently listed Chicago's 12 best neighborhoods (and suburbs) to live in for 2014. Their mission:
Chicago is famously a city of neighborhoods, each with its own charms and challenges. But which offer fewer of the latter and more of the former right now? Things like safe streets, decent schools, convenient transportation, solid housing values, plentiful restaurants and shops, and friendly neighbors? 
Chicago set out to identify 12 of them, plus 12 towns in the six-county metro area with similarly stellar advantages.

And looky here, the "Near South Side" (aka the Sloop) was one of their 12 best neighborhoods.  Chicago Magazine has this to stay about our hood:
People looking for diversity and a lightning-fast trip downtown will love this area just south of the Loop. It’s a land of condos, condos, condos (with a dash of townhouses). Mercifully, they don’t all look the same. For vintage loft conversions, search along Michigan, Wabash, Dearborn, and Indiana; for conventional condo towers, the lakefront; and for semi-detached housing, Dearborn Park, just south of historic Printers Row.
Nice to see the Sloop held in high regard.  Other neighborhoods include hip havens like West Town and Logan Square, venerable nabes like Lincoln Park and Lincoln Square and Chicago stallwarts like Hyde Park and Brideport.

Sloop represent!

(Hat tip:  VC!)

Monday, March 17, 2014

5 Story, New Residential Building Coming to 1920 S. Wabash

A reader writes:
Got a letter that quality excavation will excavate for a new 5 story building at 1920 S Wabash within thirty days. 
Property owner Jim Karman
Seems like there are a lot of residential real estate developments starting to pop up again.  Close to this location is the development of the blue star auto sales (2001 S. State and 2000 S. Wabash) building.  There is also the conversion of the old courthouse into condos at 1430 S. Michigan.  And of course the massive AMLI development at Clark and Polk and the impending condo towers being erected at 1333 S. Wabash and 1345 S. Wabash.

Real estate market is picking up again apparently.

(Hat tip: AF!)

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Mark Your Calendars: "Night in the Stacks" Event at Chicago Public Library

Spend an evening under the magnificent glass dome in the Harold Washington Library’s Winter Garden. Among the stacks, mingle with friends, librarians, authors, and fellow library supporters as we celebrate one of Chicago’s greatest treasures—the Chicago Public Library.

It might be the library, but you can laugh loudly, eat, drink, and dance the night away without getting thrown out! Books, banter, and a bar—a perfect trio that just needs you.

Friday, April 4, 2014
7 - 11 p.m.
Harold Washington Library, Winter Garden

Friday, March 14, 2014

Two New Restaurants Coming to Roosevelt Collection? Maybe a Container Store Also?

Last year was a big year for Roosevelt Collection retail, but the one thing that never really panned out was the eating establishments that were proposed.  Maybe 2014 will be the year that changes (via Eater Chicago):
People in the Gold Coast aren't the only diners who will get a new restaurant from Miae Lim. The former Japonais partner is also opening an unnamed restaurant in the Roosevelt Collection urban mall and condo complex, joining Wicker Park's Mirai Sushi and the upcoming Gold Coast expansion in the restaurateur's portfolio.
Details on the new restaurant are few, but a Roosevelt Collection marketing agent calls it "a new casual gourmet concept" and lists the space at 3,200 square-feet. It's scheduled to open at some point this year.

The post also provides an update on another announced restaurant:
Roosevelt Collection reps also say that this restaurant is in a different space than Roger Greenfield's aborted Chica Loca; they hope to complete a separate deal next week for a different restaurant there.
Hopefully this is true and two new restaurants will be coming to the hood.

A little foreshadowing for a post next week - Chica Loca will be coming off of our business counter.  More to come on this topic.

Finally, a construction savvy reader sent us an email:
Container Store at Roosevelt Collection. Saw that they were soliciting bids for this build out, but didn't see anything on the store website.
We tried to find some info on the web about this, but came up empty.  Regardless, a nice rumor for your Friday morning.

(Hat tip:  TCH!)

Huffington Post Looks at Chicago 2034

We always like dreaming about the future and that's why it was fun to read through an article on Huffington Post that looks at what Chicago might look like in 2034.  Mostly they talk about 9 high-profile "vision" projects.

Three of which are close to or in the Sloop (Motor Row, McCormick Place and the Vacant Post Office that spans Congress PKWY).  Here is what they say about the McCormick Place plans:
6. McCormick Place Expansion McCormick Place is already North America's largest exhibition and meeting facility, but a massive project (planned in conjunction with the Navy Pier overhaul) is set to add a 10,000-seat events center, a boutique hotel, a 1,200-room Marriott hotel, a new CTA station on the Green Line at Cermak and a new basketball arena for DePaul University.

While nothing is new, it's still a fun read.  They also touch on Navy Pier, The 606 (aka Bloomingdale Trail), The Spire, The Riverwalk, Lake Shore Drive and others.

(Hat tip:  KK!)

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Villain's to Feature Unique Dual-Temperature Cooler For the Perfect Beer

Sketch of new bar at Villain's (via The Local Tourist)
More and more news continues to trickle out about the new Villain's (730 S. Clark) that is looking to open in April.  This time a good read from The Local Tourist:
The new South Loop, bar and restaurant taking a new approach with its 40-deep draft beer menu by creating a dual-temperature cooler to guarantee the beer is chilled to the exact specifications of the brewer. Only a handful of these coolers exist in the US and Villains will be the first location in Chicago to have one.

Designer Brian Willette is using inspiration from Printer’s Row’s past to convey a cool and industrial feeling that gives a nod to the neighborhood’s publishing history. To keep the astetics local, Willette is working with local artisans to fabricate the unique elements like the beer taps.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

IDOT Proposes Changes to Improve Train Speeds; One Option Includes Using St. Charles Air Line

Map of proposed changes (via Streetsblog Chicago)
Train enthusiasts and Sloop residents that live near the St. Charles Air Line - you may want to read this.  Apparently IDOT has proposed some new plans to improve train speeds (via Streetsblog Chicago):
Amtrak trains would run faster between Chicago and Joliet in the Illinois Department of Transportation’s proposal to switch St. Louis-bound trains to less crowded tracks. But IDOT’s project could be even better with a few key changes. By folding the track upgrade known as CrossRail into the Amtrak project, IDOT could improve intercity trains and regional Metra service in one fell swoop.
While it doesn't sound like this is a foregone conclusion, they are looking at utilizing the St. Charles Air Line (the train tracks the cut through the South Loop just north of 16th street) in some of their plans:
IDOT has presented two options for getting Amtrak trains from the Rock Island line — which terminates at LaSalle Street station — into Union Station. Trains could cross the Chicago River at 16th Street on the elevated St. Charles Air Line, turn around and reverse into Union Station, or cross the Dan Ryan at 40th Street over a semi-abandoned bridge to run north-south along Canal Street, straight into Union Station.
While the article isn't super clear (or maybe we're not very literate with train lingo) we would imagine this would mean more traffic for the tracks in our neighborhood.  Someone please correct me if I'm wrong.

Anyway, doesn't sound like our dream of a elevated pedestrian park/biking trail will be coming to the train tracks in our hood.  For some an open thread we did on the St. Charles Air Line click here.

(Hat tip:  DK!)

Café Bionda Expanding Into Old Victory Barbershop Space

Victory Barbershop recently closed up shop at 1926 S. State.  Why?  We're unsure.

Maybe it was because the popular next door neighbor, Cafe Bionda, wanted to expand.  Maybe not.  A reader writes:
FYI – Just letting you know that this weekend the proprietors of Café Bionda are knocking down the South wall and almost doubling the size of their restaurant into the old Barber Shop space. They will still be open for business through construction as the other side is done, with a third bar, large seating area with more low tables instead of the high tops and a huge (90”) projection screen for games and private meetings/banquets. Will be a welcome addition to a great restaurant.

Most every meal we've had at Bionda has been excellent.  Glad their expanding and best of luck!

(Hat tip:  MM!)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Construction for British School of Chicago Begins

It was just a matter of time and that time has come for the British School of Chicago.  A reader sends us some pics and writes:
The north side of Roosevelt collection has been closed off, no more stairs. They will soon tear then down and build the British school. If you recall the renderings, the plaza level will extend to the roof of the school that will be a park. 
Excited for new building but saddened that wells Street is most likely going to be a pain during construction.

As a reminder here is what the plans call for:
rendering from DNA info
(Hat tip:  SH!)

Monday, March 10, 2014

New Southern Grant Park Renovation Plan Favors Skaters, Not Pedestrians

Rendering of Skate Park (via DNAinfo)
New plans revealed for southern area of Grant Park (via DNAinfo):
With an expected budget totaling at $2.5 million instead of the $3.5 million activists expected, the design of a skate park planned for the southern tip of Grant Park has been scaled back, newly-released renderings reveal.  
Initial plans for an artificially raised landscape with a stage and projection screen in the basin of a valley were scrapped, and the high-concept wheel-friendly surfaces were adapted to a more conventional skate park layout, with quarter pipes, grinding rails and other structures grouped together.  
While the initial design envisioned pedestrians and skaters sharing wheel-friendly pathways, the new design concentrates most of the skating features in a single area.
So let us get this straight - the plan has been altered to favor skaters instead of the general public?  Seems silly if you ask us.  Isn't there already a skate park just north of the tennis courts in Grant Park?  While we would love to see this area be improved, it seems silly to just build a skate park.

Maybe DNAinfo isn't reporting the entire plan, because if this is true it's disappointing.

What do you think?

(Hat tip: KM!)

1000 S Clark Getting 29 Story Apartment Tower?

Back in January a reader sent us a photo of a truck which looked like it was taking soil borings between Target and Amli on Clark.  At the time we weren't really sure what it was.

Fast forward to last week and a new rumor is emerging (via Chicago Architecture Blog):
We’ve been told that 1000 South Clark will be a residential development. This isn’t too surprising, since there was a previous plan for a residential tower on this property. That plan for 600 residences died in 2008. According to the spring robins, the new plan calls for a smaller building. One that is wider than it is tall. One being developed by… well, we’re going to keep that under our hats for now until it can be corroborated. Let’s just say it’s a local company that has done similarly-sized buildings in the recent past, with a web site that’s been “under construction” for months, and who doesn’t return e-mails.  
That’s not a lot to go on, I admit. But then this showed up in the e-mail the other day:

Back in the day, we heard rumors that this was going to be developed for a "low-pried retailer" that wanted to be by target.  Maybe that will happen also.

We shall see.  Seems like every week we're hearing of new proposed buildings going up.  Reminds us of the boom times.

(Hat tip:  JJ!)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Shots Around the Sloop: Now and Then

A reader writes:
Thought you might enjoy these pics (of my home) – 1979 vs. 2013.

(Hat tip:  RH!)

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Motor Row Marriott Hotel Gets $55 Million in TIFs

Chicago Tribune shares a quick update on the hotel situation down in Motor Row:
Chicago aldermen today gave the preliminary go-ahead to a plan to earmark $55 million in special tax district funds to help pay for a new hotel next to McCormick Place.  
The City Council Finance Committee agreed to set aside the tax-increment financing revenue for the development of a 1,200-room Marriott hotel that is to be built along with a new arena that will host DePaul University basketball games and other events near the convention center.

Interesting.  Stay tuned, this drama continues to evolve.

For some historical Motor Row stuff click here.

Friday, March 7, 2014

More Moves on City Acquiring Rezko Lot

Last we heard, the city was looking into using eminent domain to acquire the Rezko lot.  Looks like they're moving forward with an alternative option, but still keeping this on the table (via
Mayor Rahm Emanuel took another step yesterday toward gaining control of a sprawling South Loop property once owned by imprisoned political fixer Antoin “Tony” Rezko. 
Mr. Emanuel introduced an ordinance at yesterday's City Council meeting that would arm his administration with the legal authority to buy the 62-acre property between the Chicago River and Clark Street, south of Roosevelt Road, or else seize it using the city's eminent domain powers. The city wants to find a development team to build something on the empty site. 
Owned by a venture of Luxembourg-based conglomerate General Mediterranean Holding S.A., the property has sat fallow for years, to the frustration of city officials.

The city wants to develop this land.  Make sense to us:
Eventually, the city plans to release a request-for-proposals for the site, seeking a development team that wants to create a new project on the property, according to a spokesman for the Department of Planning and Development. Details about the RFP were unavailable.  
The ordinance introduced yesterday instructs the city's corporation counsel to negotiate with General Mediterranean to buy the property. If talks fail, the city will move to seize the tract via eminent domain, according to the proposed ordinance. There are 27 parcels at the site.

We could use some more single family homes in the hood!

(Hat tip:  AR & JJ!)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Bevello Opens in October - Closes in February at Roosevelt Collection

Well that was fast.  Bevello, the women's fashion retailer, opened and closed pretty quickly at Roosevelt Collection.  A reader writes:
Not sure if you saw but bevello at the Roosevelt collection already closed. I did hear from another retailer they sub let the space.  
They have cleared to space totally. 

So maybe this was just a trial run.  Or maybe this brutal Chicago weather just put the nail in their coffin at Roosevelt Collection.

Our business counter is now up-to-date and we're back to even for the year.

(Hat tip: SH!)

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Rahm Mulls Decision to Add Seats to Soldier Field

Since it's in our backyard, figured we would post a link from Chicago Tribune about potentially adding more seats to Soldier Field:
Mayor Rahm Emanuel is in the very preliminary stages of looking at a 5,000-seat expansion of Soldier Field.  
The mayor's office and Chicago Park District, which runs the stadium on behalf of the city, are exploring the possibility as Chicago mulls a Super Bowl bid.
While many people have complained that the architectural integrity of Soldier Field (aka spaceship) was compromised during the renovation in the early 2000's, it is a pretty intimate football stadium compared to others around the country (if a football stadium can be intimate).

On the flip side, it does seem strange that the 2nd biggest NFL market has the smallest stadium in the league.

5,000 seats seems silly unless it's an easy and cheap renovation.  If you're going to do this, why don't you bump it up to 70,000 to 80,000 range.

We will see what happens.  Sounds like we're in the early stages of this.

"Old Courthouse" Condo Conversion Moving Along

We've always been fascinated with the "Old Courthouse" building (1340 S. Michigan) and the potential it has for condo conversion.  While we haven't seen any marketing (ie website), you can begin to see inside as it progresses.

A reader writes and sends us the following pic:
Looks like things are really coming along at the old courthouse. All new windows, I could see the track lighting in the condo units last night and today they're starting to build out the balconies.

Has anyone seen any additional info about what the units will look like inside?

(Hat tip: SH!)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Villains Plans to Reopen in April; Brings in New Chef

Your favorite "bad guys" are coming back soon according to a nice article on
Like most of its comic-book namesakes, Villains Chicago (730 S. Clark St., no phone yet) has undergone a transformation, finding a new space across the street from its old lair at number 649 and upping the ante on food by hiring Dennis Stover (Hot Chocolate, Longman & Eagle, Big Star) as chef. Ownership plans to reopen in April.

The article goes onto to provide some more depth about food options at Villains 2.0:
While the old Villains served burgers that neighborhood foodies respected, Stover plans to add more-curated and more-creative dishes to the menu. In addition to oysters and charcuterie, he hopes to offer the whole chicken he made for the tasting at his job interview—yogurt-marinated, grilled, and served with arugula, pecorino cheese, and chimichurri. The burger, grilled rather than griddled, will average an 80/20 meat-to-fat ratio in some combination among chuck, brisket, and steak. The menu will run to about 18 items.
If you remember we recently posted about the buildout beginning.  Glad to see one of our favorites coming back!

(Hat tip:  HH!)  

Monday, March 3, 2014

Retail Build-out at 1620 S. Michigan Showing Progress

Retail on South Michigan appears to be picking up steam again.  This time the long vacant retail space at 1620 S. Michigan appears to be getting a tenant.  The picture above was snapped last night.

What's this going to be?  We aren't sure.

It kind of looks like it could be a clothing store (maybe those are dressing rooms in the back)?  Or maybe office space?

Does anyone have any idea of what's going in here?  Or any guesses?

(Hat tip:  BO!)

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Hockey at Soldier Field: Fun Event, But COLD!

Hockey at Soldier Field - good times! It's going to be freezing, but for those of us who won't be at the game it should be a fun spectacle to witness on our televisions. NBC5 provides a cool timelapse of the rink being built: Game is on NBC at 7pm tonight!